Owen Roberts (aviator)

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Owen Roberts
George Marhsall Endicott Roberts

(1912-09-17)17 September 1912
Died10 April 1953(1953-04-10) (aged 40)
Cause of deathPlane crash
Patricia Charles
(m. 1936)
RelativesJohn Crichton, 7th Earl Erne (grandson)
Marshall Owen Roberts (grandfather)
Sir George Murray (grandfather)

Owen Roberts (also known as "The Commander") (17 September 1912 – 10 April 1953) was a British Royal Air Force officer, aviator and founder of Caribbean International Airways.

Early life[edit]

George Marshall Endicott Roberts was born on 17 September 1912 in London. He was a son of the former Irene Helene Murray (1882–1972) and Marshall Owen Roberts (1878–1931), an American who became a British subject.

His paternal grandparents were wealthy American businessman Marshall Owen Roberts,[1] and the former Sarah Lawrence "Susan" Endicott.[2] His maternal grandparents were Sir George Murray (great-grandson of the Lord George Murray, second son of John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl) and the former Helen Mary Mulholland (a daughter of 1st Baron Dunleath).


Roberts flew with the RAF[3] and was a wing commander during World War II.[citation needed]

ST-12 Monospar G-ADLL was purchased by Captain Owen Roberts who entered it into the King Cup air race of 1935 and was placed 19th out of 20. Painted all gold it undertook a world tour and flew across America to California. Eventually it returned bearing the many flags of the countries it had traversed. The plane was kept by Capt Roberts until it was impressed into service at the outbreak of war as X9431. It first went to No-110 Wing (Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit) where the gold paint was replaced with camouflage paint. In May 1940 it was allocated to Ringway where it was employed with No-7 AACU.

Following the war, Roberts co-founded Caribbean International Airways (CIA). By 1950, Roberts had established regular service between Cayman and Tampa, Florida; Kingston, Jamaica; and Belize. He worked to lobby Cayman Islands Commissioners Ivor Smith and Andrew Gerrard to build airfields on all three of the Cayman Islands.[4] In 1952, construction started on an official airstrip at an estimated cost of £93,000. On 28 November 1952 with a crowd of several hundred onlookers, Roberts piloted a PBY Catalina to a perfect landing on the partially completed airport runway. Within six months after that landing, Roberts had acquired two used Lockheed Lodestar airliners purchased to keep up with the competition whose interest was now piqued by the soon-to-be completed airfield at George Town.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1936, Roberts was married to Patricia Charles, they had two daughters who lived in London:[5] During a CIA flight from Kingston, Jamaica to Grand Cayman on 10 April 1953, the Lodestar piloted by Roberts crashed on takeoff from Palisadoes Airport, killing thirteen of the fourteen people onboard, including Roberts and his sister.[6] The only survivor of the crash was Roberts' brother-in-law, Lt.-Col. Edward Remington-Hobbs.[5][7]


Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands is named after him.[8]


  1. ^ "Marshall O. Roberts Dead; the Life of One of New York's Merchants Ended". The New York Times. 12 September 1880. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Ralph Vivian Married; Mrs. Marshall O. Roberts Becomes His Bride. a Throng of Guests at the Ceremony -- Beautiful Floral Decorations -- Brilliant Reception After the Wedding". The New York Times. 8 January 1892. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  3. ^ Cooper, Alan W. (19 February 2013). Bombers Over Berlin: The RAF Offensive, November 1943–March 1944. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 978-1-78303-651-6.
  4. ^ Craton, Michael (2003). Founded upon the seas: a history of the Cayman Islands and their people. Kingston, Jamaica: I. Randle Publishers. p. 334. ISBN 9780972935821.
  5. ^ a b c Costa Rica Aviation - Owen Roberts
  6. ^ "13 of 14 on Plane Die in Jamaica Isle Crash". The New York Times. 11 April 1953. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  7. ^ Sylvan Airways - Cayman Airlines, Owen Roberts, defunct link.
  8. ^ West, Alan; Durán, Alan West (2003). African Caribbeans: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-313-31240-3. Retrieved 1 June 2020.