A St. Augustine native, graduated from Ketterlinus High School in 1941. He came from a family of aviators. His father, James W. Richbourg, helped establish the first commercial aviation company to operate from the St. Augustine Municipal Airport in 1928. Charles’ older brother, James Hartwell Richbourg, as well as his sister Caroline, preceded him as pilots.
During World War II, Richbourg was assigned to VF-98, a fighter squadron, at Los Alamitos. Later he was transferred to VRF-3, a transport squadron at Naval Air Station San Pedro on Terminal Island.
On August 3, 1946, Richbourg was discharged from active duty and assigned to the Naval Reserve. The following month he enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering. Richbourg completed his Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Master’s degree in the same discipline. He was hired by Consolidated Vultee to be one of the engineer test pilots for the Sea Dart program.
Richbourg was initially involved in conducting high speed taxi tests of the Navy’s experimental single-seat, delta wing, supersonic interceptor seaplane with fellow test pilot Sam Shannon. Richbourg became the first and only pilot to achieve su- personic flight in a seaplane, the Convair XF2Y-1 Sea Dart. He was also considered as a candidate for the Mercury astronaut program.
On November 4, 1954, Richbourg was tragically killed in a demonstration flight of the Sea Dart. He left behind his wife, Margaret, and two young children.
Charles Richbourg is a member of the Florida Aviation Hall of Fame at the Florida Air Museum in Lakeland.