Some sad news over the weekend: Actor Cliff Roberston died. He was a day past his 88th birthday—not a bad run. That's of interest to pilots because Robertson was one of us, having owned a stable of airplanes, not the least of which were a couple of Tiger Moths and a Spitfire.
Less known was that Robertson was quite involved with EAA, going back to the Hales Corners days, and he was a regular attendee at AirVenture. I met him a couple of times and gave him a ride to the museum once in our AVweb golf cart. He was an AVweb reader and was exceptionally well-informed about everything in the industry. I always remembered he greeted us the same way: "Hey, buddy, how ya' doin."
That he should pass away this weekend carried a couple of co-incidences. The History Channel happened to be showing PT 109 the iconic film of John F. Kennedy's experiences in the South Pacific during World War II in which Robertson played the lead role. I've seen the film a half dozen times but always watch it again when it comes up because of the way Robertson underplayed the role with that you-can't-rattle-me grin of his. What I didn't know is that Kennedy hand-picked Robertson to play the role. The film was released the year of Kennedy's death, in 1963.
Another co-incidence I just learned from reading
Robertson's web site is that he was flying his Baron 58 over New York when the first airplane flew into the North Tower during the 9/11 attacks. He had a rare view of tragic history in the making and died almost 10 years to the day after it happened.
Like many actors of his day, Robertson got himself involved in films about things he was interested in: Ford: The Man and the Machine, he narrated Saint-Exupery's Little Prince and appeared in Midway, Too Late the Hero and 633 Squadron. Seventy-two films in all. I'll be making a point to find and watch some of these as a tip of the hat to Robertson's memory.