Ace Eli and Roger of the Skies

Ace Eli and Roger of the Skies

0909002_1.jpgBy Cliff Robertson

Among the some 100-odd films I have been privileged to appear in, some stand out as reasonably memorable. Some I would like to forget. But occasionally you do one that is an anomaly. You’re not too sure about its overall quality (or your performance in it), but for some reason it sticks in your craw—because it’s different! Different can mean a number of bizarre things, like the quality of the performance, the writing, the direction, the production values, and ultimately the audience’s reaction and subsequent profit or non-profit in the cash register.

“Ace Eli and Roger of the Skies” was such a film. To the very casual observer, it can be dismissed as “kind of kinky.” To someone more discerning, it can be recognized as being brave in its attempt to show the love of and for early aviation in its primitive innocence. As a pilot for many years, I truly was attracted to its “difference.” As a writer and director myself, my affection was subjective. I love airplanes, particularly old airplanes, and their lore. Always have since I was five and saw my first aerobatic display over my house in the then-small town of La Jolla, Calif.

I have never had to defend that love and affection for it is endemic to Cliff Robertson in so many ways: the freedom, the flight. The romance of flight, the thrill of flight and the warm respect of a fellow aviator all go to my emotional center, my gut, my instinctive love for the very movement of flight. This might sound romantic (and it is) and over-the-top (and to some it is), but it is central to who I am (what ever that is!).

But I, without apologies, admit my addiction. Some of you might relate to that and some will not. Truthfully, I feel sorry for those who will not. For it is an aspect of my whole life that has brought me joy, comfort and happiness. It has set me free from the mundane, the ordinariness of life.

Yes, it is a whole dimension of my life and I will stand by it as it has stood by me— forever. Suffice to say it is my eternal lover, as love from a child to his parents. I will always be and I am grateful.

My love,


Copyright 2009, Cliff Robertson
All rights reserved

Academy Award and Emmy Award winning screen star Cliff Robertson has owned and flown a wide array of aircraft, including a Spitfire MK IX, a Messerschmitt Me 108, a French aerobatic Stampe SV4 biplane, a Grob Astir glider (in which he still holds a distance record) and a Beech Baron 58. A holder of single, multi, instrument and commercial licenses, as well as balloon, the pilot of many thousands of hours has accumulated many aviation awards, including EAA’s highest Eagle award and the AOPA Sharples Award. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and the American Veteran Association has honored him as Veteran of the Year. His columns will appear in his soon-to-be-published book. For more information, visit [].