Frank D. Robinson

Frank D. Robinson

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Frank D. Robinson

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Franklin D. "Frank" Robinson (born 1930) is an engineer and the founder, president and Chief Executive Officer of Robinson Helicopter Company of Torrance, California. In the early 1970s, he designed the Robinson R22 helicopter, a popular, light, two-place civilian aircraft.


Robinson was born on Whidbey Island in Washington State and received his BSME degree from the University of Washington in 1957, with graduate work in aeronautical engineering at the University of Wichita.

He started his engineering career in 1957 at Cessna Aircraft Company working on the Cessna CH-1 Skyhook four-place helicopter. After 3 1/2 years at Cessna, he spent one year working on the certification of the Umbaugh U-17 and 4 1/2 years at McCulloch Aircraft Corporation doing design studies on inexpensive rotorcraft. Robinson worked one year at Kaman Aircraft on gyrodyne-type rotorcraft. After this he spent two years at Bell Helicopter where he earned a reputation as a “tail rotor expert.” In 1969, he moved to Hughes Helicopter Company to work on a variety of R&D projects, including a new tail rotor for the Hughes 500 helicopter and work on the "The Quiet One" program.

Robinson resigned from Hughes in 1973 and founded Robinson Helicopter Company. RHC’s first business address was Robinson’s home where the two-seat R22 helicopter was designed. The first R22 prototype was built in a hangar at the Torrance Airport, and...
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