Robinson Helicopter Company: One Man’s Vision for Small, Affordable Helicopters
Frank Robinson’s fascination with helicopters began at a young age. At the age of nine, he saw a picture in the newspaper of the VS300 Prototype helicopter hovering in the air. The image of a hovering machine stuck with him. Robinson went on to study helicopter design in college. After graduation, he worked at a series of aircraft companies working on helicopters. He developed an idea for a small, low-cost helicopter. However, when none of his employers were interested in the concept, he resigned from his position and founded Robinson Helicopter Company in June 1973.
Robinson Helicopter Company’s first commercial helicopter was the R22, a simple, two-seater craft that was relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. It soon became a favorite of flight schools and individuals. The lower costs meant that flying helicopters became more accessible to individuals. With more people able and interested in learning to fly helicopters, demand for smaller, lower-cost helicopters increased. Today, the company has a wide variety of models that are cutting edge in their vision and technology. The most popular models are the R44 and R66, which can be configured for various uses, including float, news, and police. The R44 even has a training version, which is the R44 Cadet. Helicopters are manufactured and rigorously tested in its Torrance, California facility with an emphasis on safe, high-quality, yet affordable helicopters. As a member of the International Helicopter Safety Team, the company also offers extensive training on helicopter safety, maintenance, and operation. The concentration of its operations in Torrance also allows the company to manufacture and oversee the inspection of its high-quality parts.
In the end, Robinson’s original dream of simpler, more affordable helicopters is validated. To date, Robinson Helicopter Company has delivered over 13,000 helicopters. Throughout it all, the company has stayed under the guidance of the Robinson family. Frank Robinson retired in August 2010 at the age of 80. Kurt Robinson was then elected president.