The Man Called Brown Condor

The Man Called Brown Condor


Published by Skyhorse Publishing    Robinson bust at Gulfport, MS Airport

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The Man Called Brown Condor Reviews  

Military Writer’s Society of America Gold Medal Winner, Thomas E. Simmons for The Man Called Brown Condor – Biographies

Tom Simmons won GOLD for The Man Called Brown Condor from MWSA

The Man Called Brown Condor is the biography of John Charles Robinson, known in the media of the 1930s as The Brown Condor of Ethiopia. This is the true story of Robinson’s struggles to overcome the racial prejudice that all but closed the field of aviation to Blacks. His outstanding success in accomplishing his dream of flying, his influence toward the establishment of a school of aviation at Tuskegee Institute (there would have been no Tuskegee Airmen without him) and his courageous wartime service in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion in 1935 are brought to life.

It was during Robinson’s service to Ethiopia that he took to the air in opposition to the first Fascist invasion of what would become World War II. This remarkable American Hero may have been the first American to oppose Fascism in combat.


Simmons with shades Condor with Gold Medal

Author Thomas E. Simmons has received the 2015 Gold Medal Award for Biography from The Military Writer’s Society of America for his book The Man Called Brown Condor, (Skyhorse Publishing).  The narrative biography details the life of African American Pilot John Robinson. Born 1903, he grew up in segregated Gulfport Mississippi with, at the time, the impossible dream of becoming a pilot.  With determination, skill and courage, Robinson achieved his dream against all odds. He planted the seed for a school of aviation at Tuskegee and later gained fame as Colonel John Robinson, commander of the small Ethiopia Air Corps under Emperor Haile Selassie during the brutal Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-36.  Simmons was previously honored by the Mississippi Senate with a Concurrent Resolution for his writing. He is the author of: Escape from Archangel (University of Mississippi Press) and Forgotten Heroes of World War II: Personal Accounts of Ordinary Soldiers Land, Sea and Air, Second Edition (Taylor Trade/Rowman & Littlefield.) His novels, By Accident of Birth (2015) and its sequel, The Last Quinn Standing (2016) are being published by TouchPoint Press. He is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.


The Man Called Brown Condor being presented to the President of Ethiopia, 2013.


In 1934 He planted the seed at Tuskegee that ultimately led to the Tuskegee Aviation program followed by the Tuskegee Army Air Base that trained the Tuskegee Airman.



Col. John Robinson



The following fantastic photos of John Robinson were taken about 1929 at Waukegan, Ill Airport, which is about 25 miles north of Chicago. The field was used as a training site by Curtis Wright School of Aviation.

They could have been taken during his training, or after he was licensed as an instructor.  Courtesy of Pat Sparling Waukegan Collection.
Credits as follows:  * John Stokes Collection** Courtesy of the Captain Frederic F. Stripe Collection.

!cid_04A95130-7C1D-46C6-AD64-6413D3C714A0 jcr at Waukegan apt

John Robinson at Waukegan, Ill Airport 1929

!cid_6D0BAC35-42E9-4FC2-918A-4E3FEA22AF5F@att von Rosen at crash

Swedish Count Carl Gustaf von Rosen with volunteer Swedish doctor beside their ambulance plane destroyed by Italians,  Ethiopia, 1935

!cid_341BC5BF-6049-4188-A346-AF46FA16D959 JCR st Wauk. apt.

John Robinson  at Waukegan, Ill Airport 1929


Ethiopian scout plane, 1935-36

!cid_CEF082F3-AE0D-4CA0-BE16-060E5E0D89F1 JCR at Wauk. apt

John Robinson at Waukegan, Ill Airport 1929

!cid_D87C26CE-AD85-4DC9-962D-784758EF8B87 JCR at Wauk. apt.

John Robinson at Waukegan, Ill Airport 1929



Col. John Robinson at his hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1935

Balu Abaka 7'Drum Major

Balu Abaka, seven foot tall Drum Major, Imperial Ethiopian Army Band,  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1935


Ethiopian red cross plane w JCR !cid_8AC6662B-9248-4456-A806-E4F96744D728@att

Col. John Robinson w/Ethiopian Ambulance aircraft, 1935

Ethiopian red cross planes 1 !cid_9987311F-2915-4BE0-91C8-48ACED0325AD@att Robinson 35-11

Ethiopian Ambulance planes.  In spite of white paint and red cross insignia, all were destroyed by Italian planes, 1935-36

John Robinson instructing youth 1940

Col. John Robinson, Head of Aviation Division, National Youth Administration, Chicago 19 40

Robinson 35-16

Col. John Robinson w/volunteer British doctor, Ethiopia 1935-36

Robinson 35-20 Robinson 35-21 Robinson 35-23 Robinson- Street scene 35-22a Robinson- Street scene 35-29

The following photos were gathered together by Tom Simmons from varied sources.

USAAF Col. Robinson Balkan, deutsche und italienische Soldaten SM79_193 Robinson in uniform.tif Robbins field robbins airport ro37_39sq5gr_oa_scutari1942 Potez25 maintenance JR-Home John Robinson standing with bomber jacket jcr welcome back to chicago by air challenger group jcr villa jcr returns from ethiopia jcr news001 jcr junkers side jcr in ethiopian air corps uniform jcr at tuskegee 1 jcr as teen in gpt JCR and his convertible jcr ac mech class curtis wright jcr - staggerwing Jannet Waterford Bragg imam_ro37_a30_francia1940 crowd at chicago Col. Robinson pre 1934 p2 Col. Robinson pre 1934 p1 Col. John Charles Robinson 1936 Cheeks,Robinson at table with friends cessna t-50 uc -78001 cessna BC-Junkers nose 65675027062_000437 65675027062_000276  1944 pilots