Aviators Lost: Brown, Skelton, Robertson
The aviation community recently lost three accomplished pilots -- an actor, an aerobatics competitor, and a test pilot.
Cliff Robertson, best known for his film career, died on Sept. 10 at age 88. He started flying at age 14 and owned several airplanes. He served as the first chairman of the EAA Young Eagles program when it launched in 1992. He also funded a program that offered summer internships to youth at the EAA Aviation Center.
Betty Skelton, who won the international women's aerobatic championship three times, died on Aug. 31 at age 85. And Mort Brown, who logged over 14,000 first flights as head of flight testing at Cessna, died on Sept. 10 at age 103. Skelton grew up near the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., and was fascinated with airplanes from her childhood. She soloed at age 12 (presumably far from the sight of any FAA officials), then earned her private pilot certificate at age 16 and her commercial at 18. She worked as a flight instructor and excelled at aerobatic flying in competition and at airshows.
Mort Brown was the first chief pilot of production flight test for Cessna, serving from 1937 to 1972. He was inducted to the Legion of Honor and the Hall of Fame for the OX5 Aviation Pioneers for his contributions to the aviation industry.