Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Hugh Robinson

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Hugh Armstrong Robinson, born May 13, 1881 - 1963, Neosho, Missouri. Robinson was pioneer in the earliest days of aviation, combining his skills of inventor, pilot, and daredevil. Among other things, he is said to have been the third person to successfully fly an aircraft after the Wright Brothers in a plane of his own design and construction and the first person to make an air-sea rescue. Robinson also devised the art of dive-bombing.

In late 1910 Hugh Robinson became a pilot and chief engineer for Glenn Curtiss at Curtiss Aviation, North Island, California. There he invented a tailhook system that helped make possible for Eugene Ely's first ever flight to the deck of a ship, the USS Pennsylvania, by allowing the airplane to stop quickly and safely. Robinson took part in Curtiss' development of hydroplanes. In 1911 he took a hydroplane on the exhibition circuit, flying at demonstrations and fairs across North America.

At Kinloch Field in St. Louis, Missouri on March 1, 1912, Albert Berry made the first successful parachute jump, from a Benoist Airplane, designed and built by Hugh Robinson and Tom Benoist. He landed safely on the Jefferson Barracks parade grounds. The parachute and the apparatus used to support and release it were also designed and built by Robinson. Also in 1912 Robinson took a Curtiss Hydroplane to Europe at Monaco and flew impressively in an aviation meet there.

Robinson was the first person to complete a 360 degree vertical loop in an airplane. He performed this stunt as the "Circle of Death" at hundreds of demonstrations around the world.

Surviving 15 major crashes in his lifetime, he died in 1963 of natural causes.

In 1999, Neosho Municipal Airport in Neosho, Missouri was renamed Neosho Hugh Robinson Airport in his honor

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