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This message is in response to requests for information about John Robinson from Baby T in Sweden.
I am the author of THE BROWN CONDOR, The True Adventures of John C. Robinson, (ISBN 0-910155-09-7; copy right/published 1988),a book that will answer your questions. The book is out of print, but you can find it on the internet. (Try amazon.com or a used book dealer in the U.S.)
The book took eight years of research. Sources included pilots that had been in Ethiopia with Robinson. In answer to your questions see below:
1.There were racial problems. 2. Robinson did not go to jail, nor was he fired as commander of the Ethiopian Air Corp.
He was asked to return to Ethiopia in 1944. (He had gone home to the U.S. after the defeat of Ethiopia in 1936.)
Count Von Rosen of Sweden volunteered a plane for use by Ethiopia's ambulance corps. and often flew it himself, (1935-36), but the plane was eventually destroyed during the Italo-Ethiopian war
After World War II, Von Rosen set a record flying a Swedish Sapphire training plane to Ethiopia. Upon arrival he was comissioned a major in the new Ethiopian Air Force (which was under the command of Col. John C. Robinson). Von Rosen let it be known in Addis Ababa's diplomatic community that he was not pleased to be outranked by Colonel Robinson, a Negro, and under his (Robinson's)command. Despite this incident of racism, Robinson persevered in building up Ethiopia's Air Force. Through his efforts the Ethiopian Air Force obtained a surplus American Duglas C-47 transport which normally required two pilots. The plane had to be picked up and flown to Addis Ababa. Robinson and Von Rosen were the most qualified pilots for the job. They both arrived at the pick-up point in separate aircraft. According to witnesses, Major Von Rosen refused Colonel Robinson's order to fly in the right seat as copilot, saying something to the effect that he, Von Rosen, would not fly with a nigger. Robinson climbed into the C-47 alone and flew the large plane to Addis Ababa. When Von Rosen landed in Addis Ababa a short time later, a few more words were exchanged between the two men and a fight resulted. Robinson broke Von Rosen's jaw and, evidently, the pride of Sweden. Von Rosen made a formal complaint and Robinson was placed under house arrest for two days. The emperor's aid later explained to Robinson that Von Rosen represented Sweden which was, at the time, furnishing a great deal of support to Ethiopia in the form of supplies, including arms, aviation parts and technical assistance. Von Rosen had threatened to have his country's (Sweden's) aid terminated. Ethiopia could not afford to lose any aid from any source. Robinson, not wanting to cause such a problem for the emperor, subsequently resigned from the Ethiopian Air Force and joined Prince Makonnen in an import business, as well as accepting the top position in the duke's new school of aviation in Addis Ababa. In 1954, Robinson died as a result of burns and injuries he received in a crash while on a voluntary mercy flight to carry whole blood to a critically injured Ethiopian in an outlying town.
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