Thursday, April 23, 2009

Buddy Robinson / On the Mend

About 8 weeks ago my brother (Buddy Robinson) was involved in a serious plane crash. By all accounts he and his flying partner, Mark Nicolayev shouldn't have survived. Their plane fell from the sky after striking a power cable somewhere over the Salinas River. The engine was torn free, the right wing snapped and folded over, and the landing gear ripped from beneath the fuselage. They landed in the river and if the impact didn't kill them, there was a good chance they would drown. (photo: Salinas Californian)

Somehow they managed to pull themselves from the wreckage. My dad (Joe Robinson) also flies and has also had his share of close calls in the not-so-friendly skies. Like my dad, Buddy is a survivor and has too much to live for to let something like this bring things to a premature end. His list of injuries included six broken ribs, a chipped elbow, a shattered orbital socket (eye socket), a fractured leg and bleeding on the brain. There were other injuries, but these were the first to come to mind. His stay in the hospital would leave a lasting impression on many. Brain injuries are a son of a bitch, and not for the faint of heart. The reason I'm writing this is so many of you have asked how he is doing, and maybe this will in some way offer an explanation.
Flying is a big part of Buddy's life and he's already looking forward to returning to the cockpit of his favorite airplane, his rotary engined Nanchang, a warbird fighter trainer. While he wasn't piloting the plane that went down, he has had to ditch his own plane while doing a loop and having an engine seizure while inverted practicing aerobatics over the coast. Luckily he found an open field to put her down in dead stick, and is still around to tell the tale.

He's a familiar fixture at the Bonneville Salt Flats and many know him and his airplane firsthand. He's jockeyed camera crews around giving them new perspectives and great shots from vantage points previously unavailable. He's raced me down the salt, diving his plane to gain speed, zooming by overhead when my run's come to an end. On one occassion, a major sports car manufacturer was there and saw his plane and asked if he'd like to be included in their ad. He's given more than one motojournalist the ride of their life, giving them more to write about than just fast cars or motorcycles.

The one thing about my brother that never ceases to amaze me is how he never lets anything get in his way. In our younger years we both raced pro flat track. One year at the Houston Astrodome Buddy had to beat out the champ, Jay Springsteen to make it into the main event. At the time Jay was Harley Davidson's million dollar man, riding his factory prepared 750cc racing machine. My brother was on his 500cc Yamaha that was only a slight improvement over the stock machine you could buy from your local dealer. From the moment the green flag dropped, Buddy put the hammer down, eventually putting Harley's golden boy down as well! Buddy was in the main event and Team Harley and Jay Springsteen were sent packing, wondering what hit them...

Getting back to present day, a couple of weeks back I met with my brother and our good friend Scott Jensen for a friendly round of golf at their local country club. Keep in mind this is only 6 weeks after his accident. I realized how much he means to so many by the first tee. We couldn't tee off until all his friends stopped by to wish him well and gave him hugs and had their pictures taken next to him. They couldn't believe he was already out of the hospital, let alone standing there on the golf course actually preparing to play.

One couple filmed him as he stepped up to the tee, reared back and let her rip. A beautiful hook shot left of the fairway OB. (nobody said it was going to be easy) It must have tugged at our heartstrings because I hooked mine left OB and so did Scott. His friends thought we were truly great sports for purposely hitting such bad shots just to make my brother feel better. Yeah, that's it, we lied. Once we got past the first tee jitters, a game insued I'll never forget. My brother, who for the most part can't see out of his right eye, is playing with 6 broken ribs, a chipped elbow, a fractured leg, etc., etc., proceeded to put a hurt on us like you wouldn't believe. He played the entire 18 holes and never let up.

When we got back to the clubhouse, more friends surrounded him amazed he would even attempt to play. We tallied the scorecard and sure enough, the Bud Man had won. Funny thing was, his friends kept telling us what great guys we were for letting him win. If only it were true!

Buddy still has a long road ahead. Many of his injuries are still on the mend and he's still having lots of issues with his right eye. He does his best to remain positive and has the support of his loving wife, Christie and a family that's behind him 100%. He continues to push himself and still refuses to let anything get in his way. All in all I'd say his biggest setback his lack of compassion for his fellow golfers!

Hang in there bro,

We all love you.


(Buddy tipping his wing over Bonneville in the wee morning hours.)