Helicopters are an amazing invention. The fact that humanity has been able to create small machines that quite literally lift us to the sky is almost miraculous. But how did the modern world of cost-effective and reliable helicopters come about? You might be surprised to discover just how important family is to that discussion.
One of the world’s most successful helicopter companies, Robinson Helicopter Company, can trace its origins all the way back to the Great Depression. At the time Frank Robinson was just nine years old and living with the rest of his family in Washington state. During this time he saw a photograph from the Seattle Post Intelligencer. It was his first real look at an advanced helicopter – the prototype VS300. Frank instantly fell in love with the concept.
Frank would go on to study at the University of Washington with the help of his family. This gave him the academic foundation to match his dream of one day reaching the sky. After Frank graduated he’d go on to catch a lot of people’s attention with his ingenuity. He rose up through the ranks within the industry. But he’d eventually reach a point where he had to strike out on his own.
Frank had conceived of a way to create small, inexpensive, helicopters. He knew that this type of design could revolutionize the industry. However, the industry wasn’t quite ready to change. But Frank had been holding on to that dream from his youth. His view of the helicopter industry began with a look at a revolutionary prototype. And he’d soon make his own prototype a reality.
Frank would move with an amazing speed as he put together his first R22 helicopter prototype. In August of 1975 Frank would take it for a test flight. And from that point on his success was a certainty.
He’d go on to add equally revolutionary ideas into Robinson Helicopter Company. By 2005 Frank would start to incorporate custom engines into his creations. This resulted in industry changers like the R66 helicopter. The company famously weaves innovation and a dedication to craftsmanship and safety into a singular whole.
Of course, there’s also Frank’s dedication to family. His dreams of the open sky began in his family home when he was only nine. And today, Kurt Robinson carries on Frank’s dream. Not just the dream of creating amazing helicopters. He also holds true to Frank’s dedication to what’s now a family business.