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Above: A test flight of the R-44 Photo: Courtesy of the Robinson Helicopter Company


Frank Robinson has spent over 50 years in the helicopter industry, during which time he has accumulated an impressive list of achievements. Among his many awards are the Southern California Aeronautic Association’s Howard Hughes Award, the Aero Club of New England’s Cabot Award and the Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels Award. He is a member of the Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels Hall of Fame and the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s International Hall of Fame. Robinson is also a full member in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and was awarded its Doolittle Award “for outstanding professional accomplishment in Aerospace Technical Management and Engineering”. In 1991, the American Helicopter Society (AHS) named Robinson a Technical Fellow. In 1993, he received the AHS Dr. Alexander Klemin Award “for notable achieve-


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL


ment in the advancement of rotary wing aeronautics”. The Robinson Helicopter Company has twice been awarded the AHS’s Igor I. Sikorsky International Trophy for designing and building “a helicopter establishing an official world record during the preceding year”. In 2011, Robinson was elected to the National Academy of Engineers. Frank Robinson is also an ardent supporter of future engineers and helicopter history. He made a two million dollar donation to his college alma mater to establish scholarships for students from his high school and engineering students. Robinson also made separate one mil- lion dollar donations to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the American Helicopter Museum. Finding helicopter ownership and flight training to be too expensive to pursue his dream of becoming a heli- copter pilot, Frank Robinson set out to design and build a small, inexpensive


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helicopter. After unsuccessfully trying to interest some of the largest helicopter manufacturers of the day in his design, Robinson risked everything he had to turn his dream into reality.


Despite


some financial setbacks, he remained dedicated to the concept of a small, low cost helicopter and persevered, finally receiving FAA certification in 1979. The Robinson Helicopter Company has grown quite a bit from the two car garage where Frank Robinson started the com- pany in 1973. Today the Robinson Helicopter Company employs 1,000 people at a state of the art 617,000 square foot facility located at Zamperini Field in Torrance, CA. Over 9,000 Robinson helicopters have been pro- duced with the production of the R-44 now surpassing that of the R-22. Robinson Helicopters are the most pop- ular civil helicopters in the world today. There are 131 dealers and 426 author- ized Robinson service centers around


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