AKA Hugh Robison
Hugh Robison
Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers, 12-15-04
Via email from Jean-Pierre Lauwers, 12-18-04
     Robinson/Robison seems to have been born on May 13, 1881 at 11.15 h! in Neosho (Mo) USA
     He may have been the first to make an air-sea rescue when he saved a crashed pilot by making a landing on Lake Michigan in August, 1911 ?

Mail Plane
  Missouri Historical Society       
  Hugh Robinson ascended from the Mississippi River in this Curtiss seaplane on October 8, 1911. Here he accepts a sack of mail, which he flew to the east side, then back to Missouri again. This was the first seaplane flight in St. Louis.
From City of Flight:
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press

Hugh Robison
Hugh Robinson's Curtiss seaplane, with its "lucky" number thirteen medallion, on the bank of the Mississippi River, at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, on October 19, 1911, during his attempted flight down the river, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to New Orleans, Louisiana, during October 17-20. He cut short the flight at Rock Island, Illinois, after 375 miles and after learning that a prize for completing such a flight was rescinded, by its sponsors. A web page describing the flight can be found at:
Wisconsin Historical Society
     Interestingly, this web page also mentions that Hugh Robinson was the one who had invented the tail hook that Eugene Ely had used, when he landed his Curtiss Model D biplane on the deck of the "USS Pennsylvania", on January 18, 1911. I also discovered that Robinson is said to have flown about 600 to 800 pieces of air mail, during his 1911 Mississippi flight, but it is reported that less than 10 pieces of it are known to still exist and scans of them can be seen on an auctioneers web site at:
The William C. Mack Collection of Worldwide Air Post
Photo & Text Courtesy of Roy Nagl, 9-14-05

     On July 5, 1908, a petition to incorporate St. Louis as a town was drawn up, and two days later it received 80 signatures out of a possible 101 of the "taxable inhabitants." The 100th anniversary of this event was celebrated from October 3 to October 9, 1090 -- Centennial Week.The officials planned parades, luncheons, banquets, balls, concerts, receptions, naval demonstrations and aerial activities. This last item was to be the highlight of the week. St. Louis would witness balloon races, dirigible maneuvers, and for the first time in its history, sustained airplane flights.
     A number of local inventors also expressed their intentions of exhibiting machines during Centennial Week. Frederick Barolom, the son of the president of the National Bank of Commerce, built an airplane at his home and planned to fly it during the celebration if he could find a suitable engine. It was a monoplane 7 feet long and 26 feet in span, with a single propeller. Hugh A. Robinson, a member of the Aero Club, perfected his third airplane at the shops of the Dorris Automobile Company, where he was employed. Patterned after the Hugh Latham monoplane, it was 34 feet long and had a wing area of 240 square feet. The machine weighed 600 poounds and, propelled by a 25-horsepower motor, it ws expected to attain a speed of forty miles per hour.
     On October 4, St. Louis' Hugh Robinson brought his airplane to Forest Park for trials, but it did not have sufficient power to rise from the ground. On October 7, Hugh was on the Forest Park field, but by the time he was ready, it was too dark to fly.

Presented to George Arnold, by Hugh Robinson.
Collection of Robert Arnold, George's son, 8-10-04

     In 1910 the Aero Club of St. Louis experienced the greatest year in its history. The organization took part in two airplane meets, an international balloon race, a convention of aero clubs, a national aero show, the staging of a spectacular flight over the Mississippi River, and the establishment of the first permanent airfield in St. Louis.
     At the Washington Park field an aviation meet for novices was conducted by the Aero Club in July 1910. The tournament was deemed a success, although it saw "no real flying." It did, however, stimulate the building of aircraft by many residents of the city.
     Hugh A. Robinson and Frederick Van Baralom perfected the monoplanes that they had attempted to demonstrate during Centennial Week in 1909

     I notice on the last page under "Twenty-Five Years Ago Today," in the last issue of the Chirp, it tells about Lincoln Beachey taking part in the "greatest air carnival" at Los Angeles in 1910. I am wondering who furnished the dope that Beachey flew at the 1910 Los Angeles meet.
     If I am not mistaken, that is the exact date when Glenn Curtiss and I were flying at this meet and Beachey popped in on us and wanted to become an aviator.
     So Curtiss told me to take him out over the back stretch and let him take a hop. This was the last hop that pusher ever made for he piled it up and it was a complete washout. Fortunately Beachey crawled out unhurt.
     Curtiss said he had no more planes to wreck just then and Beachey disappeared. It was some time later that I heard he had learned to fly. In fact, as I remember, when Ely had the contract to fly from Key West to Havana, Curtiss discovered that the contract called for two aviators. Whether or not the second aviator could fly did not matter, so Curtiss laughingly decided to send Beachey.
     Accordingly, Beachey went to Key West with Ely in one of the old machines. But from information I gathered later, he piled up the old machine at Key West and it was not until some time later that he actually began flying.
Courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

World's First Parachute Jump from Airplane
St. Louis Mo, January 12th 1911.
Benoist Airplane built by Hugh Robinson and Tom Benoist;
Roberts Two Cycle Marine Engine.
Jump made by Capt John Berry; Start from Kinloch Field
and landed on parade ground of Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis
Parachute and apparatus designed and built by Hugh Robinson
Collection of Robert Arnold, 8-10-04

Robison on Miss.
Hugh A. Robinson on the Missisippi - 1911
Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers, 12-15-04

"For A Purse of $20,000, Robinson is Chosen to Make the 1,917-Mile Journey From the City of Minneapolis to New Orleans. He will make the flight, via Memphis, in his Hydro-Aeroplane Going by Easy Stages."
Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: September 18, 1911,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 11-16-03
"St. Louis, Sept. 17. - Hugh K. Robinson, the aviator, has been nominated by the Trans-Mississippi River Flight association to make the Minneapolis-to-New Orleans hydro-aeroplane flight of 1,917 miles. Robinson will start from the survey of Lake Calhoun in the heart of the residential district of Minneapolis Wednesday morning, October 11. He will fly for a purse of $20,000 raised by the river cities in which he is to give hydro-aeroplaning exhibitions.
     His trip down the river will be in easy stages. The start is timed for the opening of the deep waterways convention in Chicago. Every effort will be made to call attention to length and the possibilities of the Mississippi river and the importance of cities located on it. Robinson was selected from over forty applicants...."
Bob Davis

Collection of Robert Arnold, 8-10-04

     Robinson ascended in his Curtiss seaplane at 10:38 a.m. from the foot of North Market Street. He headed downstream and sailed over Eads Bridge at a height of 750 feet. In a more extensive repetition of Thomas Scott Baldwin's Red Devil flight of 1910, Robinson then turned north and flew under Eads Bridge, over McKinley Bridge, and under Merchants' Bridge. Turning south, he steered the hydroplane under Merchant's Bridge a second time, and under McKinley Bridge, as he touched the water for the sixth time during the demonstration. This was the first time St. Louis had seen a seaplane in flight. "Robinson soared for more that twenty minutes and never in the history of aviation in St. Louis has a more entertaining flight been witnessed." He had carried a sack of mail to the Illinois side of the river, but no arrangements had been made to leave it there, so he brought the bag back with him to the St. Louis post office.
     Immediately thereafter, the St. Louis aviator collected a $1,000 stipend from the Aero Club for the flight, and then departed for Minnesota to make an unprecendented air trip down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. This daring venture had been proposed by Albert Bond Lambert in the spring of 1911. In mid-September, the Trans-Mississippi Valley Flying Association had been formed, and it had solicited $15,000 from Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and other communities along the route to pay the expenses of the undertaking. Hugh Robinson was to start the flight on October 13 under the auspices of the Curtiss Exhibition Company.
     On October 21, the Aereo Club received word that Hugh Robinson had abandoned the Minneapolis-New Orleans flight which he had begun on October 17 (four days late). He needed $20,000 for expenses, and the towns along the river had raised a sufficient fund for him. They began to withdraw their commitments, however, when the aviator refused to give definite dates for his arrival, since his movements depended on wind and weather conditions. When Robinson reached Rock Island, Illinois, 371 miles from his starting point, he sent a telegram in desperation to Albert Bond Lambert, demanding that the Aero Club of St. Louis, his home organization, increase its $500 subscription. The Aero Club president responded:
          Your telegram demanding $2,000 and threat to end flight at Rock
          Island received. As the sum we have raised for you does not
          amount to $2,000 we withdraw any and all guarantees we had for
          you to arrive here on your way to New Orleans
     The St. Louis aviator carried out his threat and ended his flight at Rock Island. The venture cost the Curtiss Exhibition Company an estimated $5,000
From City of Flight:
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
by James J. Horgan
The Patrice Press

Hugh Robison
Hugh Robison
     Vintage postcard showing what may be Robinson's seaplane along the Mississippi River, on October 19, 1911. The scene looks very much like the other photos taken of it at that location, which can be seen on this web site and in George Vergara's biography about him, which you have.
Photos & Legend from Roy Nagl, 1-6-05

Hugh Robison
Photo shows airplane of pilot and daredevil Hugh Armstrong Robinson
making a crash landing on water near Nice, France, 1912.
(Source: Flickr Commons project, 2009
and Metropolitan magazine, July 1912)
Library of Congress Collection,

     If you search for "Hugh Robinson" +aviation -airport, using the Google search engine, (5-7-05), you will find about 139 links. You may want to sample many of the available sites, as time permits, but I heartily recommend that at least you visit the following.
Photos of Aeromarine employees
     This page on the Aeromarine website offers a beautiful photograph of Hugh standing alongside an Aeromarine Model R-13. It is accompanied by a brief resumé of his activities with the company about 1917. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

Hugh Robinson
Pioneer Aviator
George L. Vergara
Product Details
Cloth: 136 pages; 6x9 inches
Publisher: University Press of Florida, 1995
List Price: $29.95
Used & new: from $2.47
ISBN: 0-8130-1361-5
"Hugh Robinson (1881-1963) was a daredevil, a compulsive inventor, an important figure in the early hstory of American aeronautics, and one tough customer. He survived test flights, fifteen serious crashes, the "Circle of Death" circus act (his own invention), and spectacularly dangerous international air shows.
     Based on the Robinson family's trove of early aviation memorabilia and 82 rare photographs, this biography dscribes his passage from childhood--when he attempted to fly his homemade bicycle off a 100-foot-high-hill- to his final years as a consulting enginer for National Scientific Laboratories in Washington, D.C......."

From the front flyleaf

City of Flight
The History of Aviation in St. Louis
James J. Horgan
Product Details
Cloth: 500 pages; 6 1/2 x 9 inches
Publisher: Patrice Press, 1984
Used: $17.95
ISBN: 0-935284-35-4
     "From time to time, in the body of scholarly writing, there emerges a work of commanding importance. Somtimes this paper will do more than satisfy a committee; sometimes it will go beyond a noble contribution to the sum of our knowledge and will also entertain the reader. Occasionally it will be couched in plain, easy-to-understand journalism, designed to captivate a person with a sense of being there. City of Flight is all of this. James J. Horgan transports his reader into history; into the basket of the Atlantic, as the 19th century balloon crashes into the timber of upstate New York, a thousand miles after its takeoff from St. Louis. Into the Red Devil, as Thomas Scott Baldwin flies his flimsy biplane between the Mississippi River and the arches of Eads Bridge. Onto the struts of the Sky Cycle, as a 15-year-old boy pedals his little gas-filled dirigible over Forest Park. Onto Art Hill, to cheer the flyover of America's newest hero, Charlese A. Lindgergh, in his Spirit of St. Louis, in salute to the city which made it all possible. This is an epic set in the very cradle of aviation history - the City of St. Louis - now, as it was in the beginning, the City of Flight."
From the flyleaf

Hugh A. Robinson died in 1963
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster, 1996

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