Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wg Cdr J.A. 'Robby' Robinson 1932-

Robby Robinson was born in Gloucester in 1932. He was educated at Sir Thomas Rich's School in the city and joined the RAF at Royal Air Force College Cranwell in 1950. He graduated from there in 1952 and then trained on Meteors and Canberras, joining 10 Squadron at RAF Scampton in September 1953, flying Canberras.
He transferred to the V Force in 1956 as a co-pilot on 90 Squadron flying Vickers Valiants, becoming a Captain in 1959. He volunteered and passed for the Empire Test Pilot School in 1961 and joined number 21 Course in January 1962. After graduation he was posted to B Squadron A&AEE Boscombe Down in 1963, testing Victors, Vulcans, Canberras and many other aircraft, before being transferred to E Squadron in 1964 as the Senior Pilot, testing, among other transport aircraft, the Belfast, Argosy, Beverley, HS125 and Basset.

In 1966 he was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air. After Staff College and a year in the Intelligence Branch he returned to ETPS as a Tutor from 1968 to 1970, being awarded the Air Force Cross for his time there. On promotion to Wing Commander he suffered three years on the ground in the Ministry of Defence before returning to Boscombe Down, firstly as the Deputy Superintendent of Flying and then, in 1976, the Chief Instructor and Head of ETPS.
In 1978 he was recruited by Hawker Siddeley to become a Test Pilot at Woodford, becoming the deputy Chief Test Pilot in 1979. He took over as Chief Test Pilot from Sir Charles Masefield in 1981, overseeing the testing of the Nimrod MR2, the Nimrod AEW, the BAe 748 and the ATP, the maiden flight of which he carried out at 10.00am August the 6th 1986; this time and date being announced two years before. For this the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators awarded him the Derry and Richards medal.
He retired at age 55 and joined Air Bridge at East Midlands, flying the Merchantman freighter, until retiring again in 1991 to teach on the ATP and BAe 146 simulators at Woodford. He became the Director of Flight Test and Chief Test Pilot at the International Test Pilot School at Woodford in 1998, retiring from there in 1999 when the school moved to Coventry, whereupon he returned to teaching on the BAe 146 simulator. He finally retired in 2001 to write and lecture after nearly fifty years of flying.
He has flown over 80 powered aircraft types from supersonic fighters to helicopters as well as several types of gliders.