Brenda E Robinson is the first black woman to earn her wings of gold as a naval aviator. Robinson was the 59th female to enter naval flight training program September of 1979 and became the 42nd to earn her wings, June 6th 1980. The first female to do so was LTJG Barbara Allen, like Robinson earned her wings at Corpus Christi, TX. Brenda was among one of the first women to make aircraft carrier landings. C-1A on USS America, January 1981.
Brenda Robinson was born 1956 and grew up in North Wales Pennsylvania, the only daughter of Susan and Edward Robinson. At the rightful age of 9 yrs old Brenda was interested in all things aircraft travel related, Flight Attendant to start. When she was 11 years old her father promised to send her out to Illinois (by Plane) to visit her cousin if she got good grades. She did! So Brenda took her first airplane ride from Philadelphia to Chicago on United Airlines. This is where her story begins. In High school Brenda attended a career study program. North Penn High School, offering numerous career selections, spending half days as an on-sight monitor for the entire year, she choose aviation, and visited an airport, Wings Field, Bluebell PA, every day. Piloting an airplane as a career did not seem feasible at the time. Realizing women had a small role in aviation she almost lost interest. However, Air traffic Control became her new dream. At the suggestion and recommendation of the head Air Traffic Controller at the North Philadelphia Airport she was encouraged to apply to the only two colleges on the east coast accredited by the (FAA) Federal Aviation Administration. Dowling College, NY. one of the best aviation schools on the East Coast and more widely known Emery Riddle in Florida. Brenda chose Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y., a great college with a top notch Aeronautics program. She applied to only Dowling College and was accepted. After the first semester began she learned that MacArthur Airport, Islip, NY, offered flying lessons in addition to her course curriculum at a 10% discount to Dowling students. It didn't come easy. Flying was very expensive and when she ran out of money she had to stop flying, raise money from her strapped parents, and start again. With a heavy academic load, Brenda still held down a job just to meet personal financial expenses. While at Dowling Brenda meet her first ever woman pilot, a wonderful French woman who was one of her flight instructors from whom she learned much and that was when she decided flying could and would become her life. Whereby then achieving her Privates pilots license.
There is so very much more to Brenda's story. Her list of accomplishments include: She was one of five women studying Aeronautics of 2000 students while at Dowling. She is the first black woman in Dowling's history to graduate with a degree in Aeronautics. In 1977 she was selected as one of 10 women in the nation by the Navy to start boot camp followed by flight training. She is the first black woman in the history of the US Navy to graduate (AOCS) Aviation Officers Candidate School and was commissioned Ensign (equivalent to the Army's second lieutenant). Completion of flight school in June of 1980 she earned her wings and was the focus of this historic Navy event.
LCDR Brenda Robinson's Navy career entailed flying 7 types of aircraft.
- Landed on Aircraft carriers (115 traps), carrying mail, cargo and passengers in the C 1A (COD) Carrier Onboard Delivery.
- Flew bomb disposal teams and passenger transport missions out of Guam to the Pacific Micronesia Islands, Philippines and Japan in the Super King Air 200. She was the Unit Evaluator (check airman) in Guam, as well as flight instructor both in Guam and
- Pensacola Florida where she taught beginner flight training formation, night flights, and basic instruments.
- In Washington D.C. Brenda flew Admirals, Senators, Congressmen, Generals, Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of the Navy and other VIP's four stars and higher in the Sabreliner and Gulfstream III, both Lear jet type aircraft.
- In San Diego she flew the DC-9 transporting Troops and cargo around the world. Brenda participated in the gulf war, both Shield and Storm. Flying throughout areas such as Fujairah of the United Arab Emirates. From Fujairah she flew regularly into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Europe.
Three years prior to her honorable discharge from the Navy Brenda prepared for new goals scheduling schooling and taking exams for certificates required by airlines. With help from new friends at Organizations of Black Airline Pilots, Future Airline Pilots Associations, over 3,800 hours of flight time and 17yrs of flight Experience, she was interviewed by United, Delta and American airlines. At United she took with her, to the interview, the picture of a little 11yr old black girl, standing on the ramp in front of the first plane she ever flew on (a United airplane in the back ground). American Airlines hired her in 1992 at the age of 35 and she flew with distinction. Brenda's photo hangs prominently in the hallway of the American Airlines Flight Academy.
Brenda retired from American Airlines with 17 Years. First Black Woman retires after 34 years in the skies.
- Private Pilot 4 years, C-150, C-172
- US Navy Pilot 13 years, T-44, C-1A, C-12, T-34 instructor, T-39. C-20, C-9, completed 20 years, then retired from US Navy
- American Airlines 17 years, B-727, B-757, B-767, retired
Brenda is owner of "Successful Attitude" as Motivational Speaker
SuccessfulAttitude.com, author "Success is an Attitude, Goal Achievement for a Lifetime" Amazon.com
Side note of other cool achievements:
- Real Estate Broker, owner of Successful Attitude Realty
- Techno wizard, Brenda trained two puppies to be self sufficient and happy through technology.
- Designed interactive web site for system automation.
Brenda E Robinson has written a new book titled "The Very First Raven," publishing soon, the first written account of her life as a pioneer.
She currently resides in Charlotte NC and is a Speaker at schools and events all over the nation. She teaches goal achievement and lessons learned from her unique life and career.
Citation by House of Representatives Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1978
Letter from the First Lady of the United States 2010
Commendation from NJ State Senator Jeff Van Drew, 2013
Cambridge Who's Who Extraordinary Person of the Year 2010-2011
Letter of Appreciation from the Mayor of Charlotte NC 2016