Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame Spotlight: Elvin W. “Robbie” Robertson
Elvin W. “Robbie” Robertson *
Inducted in 1988, Elvin W. “Robbie” Robertson learned to fly in a Curtiss Jenny in 1920. He is credited with sparking the aviation industry in Northern Virginia and Washington areas as a barnstormer and airport operator during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.
In 1924, he began operating the Hoover Field in Washington, DC and Alexandria Airport at Hybla Valley. Robertson helped draft aviation laws for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s new aeronautical branch and formed Mount Vernon Airways, a full service flying school and charter service.
During WWII, he was the Director of Aeronautics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. After the war, he became a successful businessman in Northern Virginia operating the Annandale Business and Shopping Centers and later the Williamsburg Motor Court.
More about Robbie Robertson (credit Wikipedia)
In 1925 near Alexandria, Virginia, Elvin W. Robertson started a business offering sightseeing flights for a fee. He had United States Department of Commerce pilot’s license #89 and Mechanic’s License #79. He operated from a field near the Potomac River. Soon after he started his business, he reestablished himself in Fairfax County about 4 miles south of Alexandria. This new airport of Robertson’s was located in Hybla Valley of Fairfax County, Virginia. Located a mile south of Beacon Field Airport, it was initially known as the Alexandria Airport. He incorporated in 1928 and it became Mount Vernon Airways Corporation, with Robertson as the president and general manager. In 1929 it was granted the first official airport permit in the state of Virginia.
Robertson offered flight instruction from his new location from a business, which he named “Mount Vernon School of Aeronautics” and was part of his Mount Vernon Airways. He prospered because of interest generated in flying by Lindbergh’s feat. The airport in 1929 was described as a one hundred acre field that was 3,000 by 2,300 feet (910 by 700 m). The northeast corner had a hangar that was 140 by 60 feet (43 by 18 m). Alexandria Airport became known also as the Hybla Valley Airport because of its location. Robertson used the airport as a site for barnstorming and air circuses. Hybla Valley Airport in the mid-1930s offered typical full aircraft service.
The Navy took over Robertson’s Hybla Valley Airport at the beginning of World War II in 1939 to train military pilots, but he received the airport back after the war. William Robert Ashburn and his wife bought the Hybla Valley Airport from Robertson and Mount Vernon Airways in 1945. The Ashburns worked as the fixed-base operator (FBO) at the Beacon Field Airport between 1931 until 1942, about a mile south of Hybla Valley Airport. Ashburn was its president and his wife was its secretary/treasurer. They had a contract with the Beacon airport property owner to operate Ashburn Flying Service.
Ashburn envisioned making his newly acquired airport and Ashburn Flying Service the main airplane facilities for the national airport of the Washington DC area. He made improvements of a local airport restaurant and a lounge that had arcades and vending machines for his passengers. Hybla Valley Airport developed several runways and constructed three hangars for airplanes. It also had a flying school facility for training to get a pilot’s license. The airport operated from time to time dozens of airplanes and sold government surplus aircraft. Ashburn’s airport installed a lighting system so airplanes could land there at night. The regional facilities grew to 179 acres by 1954. The airport was closed after some thirty years of operation on April 4, 1956, and the land was sold to a real estate development company. (Wikipedia)