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James Robertson: RAF conscript became skydiving pioneer
4:00pm Thursday 12th April 2012 in Obituaries
JAMES Robertson was reluctant to be conscripted into the RAF in 1952, but it led to a lifelong love of skydiving.
Mr Robertson, who has died at the age of 80, was one of the original members of the RAF Free Fall Display Team, later known as the RAF Falcons.
The team – nicknamed ‘The Big Six’ as most of its members were shorter than 5ft 6in — started in 1961 at RAF Abingdon, making its debut at the Farnborough Air Show in 1961. In 1964 Mr Robertson was Free Fall Champion of Thailand.
After a tour of duty in Singapore, Mr Robertson – who was known to friends and family as ‘Snowy’ – returned to the Parachute School at RAF Abingdon in 1965, later moving to the parachute test team at Boscombe Down. A keen sportsman and RAF physical training instructor, he was one of the pioneers of the discipline.
He reached the rank of Warrant Officer and was awarded the Air Force Medal twice.
The eldest of three sons, he was born in Derby in 1931. In 1949 he married Sheila Castledine, who died in 2002.
Mr Robertson played football for Abingdon Town, where he was offered a professional career by West Ham United, but was unable to accept because of the low wages.
He also starred as a British businessman in a Singapore newspaper’s advert for butter and performed skydiving stunts for the 1974 film Juggernaut.
He retired from the RAF in 1986 and moved to Wiltshire.
He died on March 16, and is survived by his three children – Rita Waters, Lynne Toms and Donald Robertson – six grandchildren and two great grandsons.
A private burial will take place next Wednesday.