j Fred Robinson
Fred Robinson
Fred Robinson
Fred Robinson - 1910-1911
Collection of Alexandra Pain, 6-22-06;

via email from Alexandra Pain, 6-22-06
Hi there.
I know nothing about early aviation and in my quest to find out more i have found your website. My interest has been kindled by family research and some photographs of my grandfather have come into my possession which may be of interst to you. I wondered also if you had any further background information which you might let me have regarding his claims in respect of his tractor biplane. I am e-mailing you some of the photographs.
My grandfather was Fred Robinson. He was an Englishman who went to the US with his family around 1905. He and his brother were passionate about aviation and designed, built and flew two planes in 1910 & 1911 (photos included). They were residing in Rochester, NY at the time. Other than that I know very little but I also have an English newspaper cutting about him dating from just before WWII in which my grandfather gives more details. Some of which are:
1. He personally knew Jack Frisby - parachute jumper? and Glen Curtiss - an aviator?

2. My grandfather claims he and his brother were the inventors of the tractor biplane "which previously had only been applied to monoplanes".

3. They constructed 2 planes. The second was built in 1911 and was fitted with an 8' double propeller and an eight-cylinder V engine 55-60hp. He believed this to be the first eight-cylinder engine produced and was an American make.

4. He also suggested that an American had claimed to be the inventor of the first tractor machine of this kind, but "Aeronautical Publications had upheld the Robinson Brothers claim".

5. My grandfather claimed to have got off the ground in the above plane.

6. Their flying efforts were thwarted by the theft of their German magneto which had cost 25 and they couldn't afford to replace it. The whole plane had cost 250 to build.

7. The Robinson brothers returned to England in 1913. My grandfather Fred joined the Royal Flying Corp in WWI. He saw the Red Baron shot down and buried.

All this means nothing to me! Do you have any more info? Enjoy the photos.
ALEXANDRA PAIN (Mrs) Malton, North Yorkshire, UK.

via email from Alexandra Pain, 6-23-06
Hi Ralph
I am so thrilled you found the photos of interest and thank you for putting them on the net. I am particularly grateful that my grandfather's very small contribution to the history of aviation has become part of a world archive for posterity. My mother Joyce, Fred's daughter, is absolutely overcome with pride!
Fred's d.o.b. was 24.4.1887. He died 26.4.1973.
His brother's name was Arthur Robinson. They were inventors/engineers during their early working lives and their inventions included the cattle and pig weighing machines! After WWI they had a ladder making factory in Leeds and my mother recalls the workshop walls being adorned with various propellors from their flying days. We still have one of Fred's old walking sticks which he made out a prop from one of his early flights. I am told the propellors eventually found their way into Leeds museum.
Just one other thing has come to light. I am not sure if the Robinson Bros were claiming to be the inventors of the tractor biplane or the first to put the tractor biplane engine at the FRONT of the pilot. I gather they had deduced that the major cause of pilot mortality was crushing to death by the rear mounted engine. Placing the engine at the front would eliminate this risk. The pictures I e-mailed you yesterday indeed show their 1911 plane with a forward mounted engine but I notice from your 1911 archive of Glen Curtiss photos that his plane still had a rear mounted engine.
It would be great if someone out there could come up with some info so we know exactly what we can attribute to the Robinson Brothers.
There was also a family rumour that my grandfather always thought the Wright Bros were at the bottom of the theft of his magneto!
Very many thanks once again.
Alexandra Pain

     Alexandra Pain has kindly shared a number of photographs of her grandfather's aeroplane with us. You may view them by clicking on the title above.

"Fred's d.o.b. was 24.4.1887. He died 26.4.1973."
Personal communication from Alexandra Pain, 6-23-06

If you have any information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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