Cliff Robertson, a pilot who happens to also be an Academy Award and Emmy Award winning screen star, says he remembers reading “Time Must Have a Stop,” by Aldous Huxley, years ago, and wondering about the title.
Once upon a time in La Jolla
Born Clifford Parker Robertson III, on Sept. 9, 1925, Robertson was raised by his grandmother and an uncle, after his mother died when he was two and a half. He recalls becoming aware of aviation when he was five years old, living in La Jolla, Calif.
” I saw a little yellow airplane doing aerobatics over our house,” he said. “My uncle and another man were standing there watching the aerobatics, wagging their heads sagely, and one said, ‘You’ll never get me up in one of those little airplanes.’ Then the little airplane turned southward and started to hum its way home. We got into the Ford alongside the curb and it wouldn’t start. In my little mind, I was thinking, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ I think I began to become a partisan for aviation at an early age. I was defending it then, and I still am.”
Living 13 miles from San Diego, when Robertson was 14, during the summer, he began riding his bicycle, six days a week, into a “little sleepy airport.”
” Speer Airport had one little sandy runway,” he said. “I would go and work eight hours a day cleaning airplanes and engine parts and never got paid a nickel, but every third or fourth day, the chief pilot would say, ‘Cliff, go get your cushion.’ I was short for my age. I’d take my cushion out to a little red Piper Cub and he’d take me up for 15 minutes and let me at the controls once we took off. I thought I was the ace of aces. It was a magic time.”