Riots to Renaissance: John "Johnny" Robinson

John 'Johnny' Robinson

John 'Johnny' Robinson (Source:Robbins History Museum, Harold Hurd Collection)

John "Johnny" Robinson's (1906-1954) dream of flying started at age seven, when he first saw an airplane in his hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi. But Robinson temporarily abandoned his dream after his parents convinced him to pursue a more practical profession. He graduated from the Tuskegee Institute with a degree in automotive mechanics. His interested in aviation was later revived after he moved to Detroit, where he met Cornelius Coffey and the two applied for an aeronautics program in Chicago. An adventurous and intelligent aviator, Robinson spent the later years of his career as a fighter pilot in the Ethiopian Air Force and became known as the "Brown Condor." Upon his return to the U.S., he received a hero's welcome for his role as the only American volunteer in the Ethiopia-Italy conflict. In 1954, Robinson died in a plane crash in Ethiopia.