William “Billy” C. Robinson, Sr.
Billy moved to Brooklyn, Iowa in the late 1800s. He attended Grinnell Academy and College and in 1914 organized the Grinnell Aeroplane Company. He carried the first air mail from Des Moines to Chicago on October 17, 1914. This flight also established a long distance flying record. He was presented the Airmail Long Distance Flight Medal by the Aero Club of America at Hotel St. Regis in New York in 1915. He is also responsible for carrying the first news by air on September 13, 1913 in Lansing, Michigan.
On March 9, 1916 Billy agreed to assist France in building the planes that country needed for the remainder of WWI. Two days after on March 11, his attempt to establish an altitude flying record near Grinnell, ended in a fatal crash.