Frank was the youngest of four children. He grew up during the depression and as a young man, he worked his way through college focusing his education on helicopter design. In 1957, he earned a BSME degree from the University of Washington and later attended graduate school at the University of Wichita. Robinson began his career in 1957 at the Cessna Aircraft Company working on the CH-1 Skyhook helicopter. In 1969, he moved to to Hughes Helicopter Company to work on a variety of R&D projects. Robinson resigned from Hughes and in 1973 founded Robinson Helicopter Company.