Frank Robinson was born in 1930 to a large family in Carbonado, Washington. His interest in helicopters was sparked at a young age and he was determined to see his dream of creating something that could fly a reality. Education was important to Robinson and he focused specifically on helicopter design while earning his BSME degree from the University of Washington. Later on, he was accepted into the graduate program at the University of Wichita. After receiving his degree, Robinson started his first job at the Cessna Aircraft Company in 1957. During this time, he worked on the CH-1 Skyhook helicopter. A few years later he started the process of certifying the gyroplane at Cessna. In 1969, Robinson went to work at the Hughes Helicopter Company and focused on varying R&D projects. While he enjoyed his work, Robinson couldn’t forget about his dream to create a smaller and more cost-effective helicopter. Unable to get help or enthusiasm from his current company, he turned in his resignation.
This resignation led to the founding of Robinson Helicopters in 1973. A family-owned business based out of Robinson’s home in Palos Verdes. Their motto was to create and distribute reliable and inexpensive helicopters to the rest of the world. In August of 1975, Robinson piloted the first R22 prototype. 3 ½ years later of adjustments and improvements, the R22 was certified and ready to be sold. Due to high demand, The R22 quickly became the most sought-after helicopter.
The next project for Robinson Helicopters was the four-seat capacity R44 helicopter. The R44 was praised for its ability to function safely in hot temperatures and high altitudes. By 2010With the expected changes and improvements, this helicopter became certified and available in 1993. By December 2010, over 5,000 R44 helicopters had been purchased worldwide. The R44 paved the path for the R66 and other developments and projects.
To date, Robinson’s Helicopters sell mainly the R44 and R66 helicopters. There are many variations of these helicopters and accommodate more consumers. The company continues to make advancements and improvements to its fleet in Torrance, California.