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What Gets You Up in The Morning?

As part of the series of meetings with helicopter industry leaders, today we had the chance to introduce you to Kurt Robinson, President of Robinson Helicopter Company.

As you may know, we’ve been friends with Robinson for over 10 years and we’ve witnessed firsthand many of their achievements:

  • Launch of the R66 Turbine. These have recently crossed the milestone of 1,000 units sold. Last October, the fleet logs reached over a million flight hours (to which I contributed around 200 hours)
  • Robinson has sold over 12,000 helicopters, mainly to private pilots
  • Robinson has a worldwide presence, being active in over 60 countries
  • Robinson is the most used helicopter brand for training purposes

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We could go on explaining all of Robinson’s accomplishments for a long time, but we would prefer letting its President share his own vision for the future of private pilots.


You’ve been involved in the world of helicopters for a long time: are there still things that excite you?


Let’s say that, after 35 years, it’s true that I’ve had the chance to see the development of the helicopter for private pilots. When I started, we had the Robinson R22. My first part-time job was to deliver R44s outside of California, which allowed me to see both the good parts and the parts that needed improvements on our helicopter. Then came the R66. I remember my first flight in the R66 Turbine. I could feel the machine for more than a few minutes. This was back when it was still the R66 experimental S/N 0002. I flew it with our test pilot, Doug. We were flying to 2009 HAI Heli-Expo in Houston. It was amazing to see how smooth the aircraft was, and fast too! It was a stunning cross-country flight, even better than with the Robinson Raven II, and I knew it was going to be a great helicopter. 

What I enjoyed the most about these 35 years is meeting thousands of private pilots who were able to discover fantastic places using our helicopters. I remember my visit to Quebec, where I saw the largest number of helicopters gathered in one place. There were more than 50 helicopters during the HeliClub Weekend organized by one of our authorized dealers.

It’s exciting to look back to compare where we were then, and where we are now… Since the ’80s, the advancement has been astonishing. I love working on new designs and installing new equipment in order to make the flight easier and more efficient. There’s no sign of slowing down for the years to come. We at Robinson consider ourselves lucky to be part of such an evolution. This is really what gets you up in the morning.

Can we talk a little about your vision for the future of private helicopter pilots? 

As you know, Mike, we at Robinson are passionate about the helicopter. Safety comes first. We’re pleased to now see the results of our efforts to train private and commercial pilots, starting in 1990, with our “Robinson Safety Course.” In addition, we’ve designed tools that help reduce the pilot’s workload so that he can focus on piloting. Obviously, the reliability and quality control of each of our components have always been a priority. In the future, we’ll continue in this direction. 


What can we wish Robinson and yourself for the next decade?

Honestly, just that we can continue our work in terms of safety, and that we can find more ways to offer helicopters at rates that’ll allow even more passionate pilots to have their own. 


10 years ago, your father Frank announced his retirement at the age of 80. Do you plan on retiring before then? 

As long as I keep having this much fun working with the team, I’ll continue!


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