Major William Bryan Robertson was born in 1893 and joined the Aviation Section of the U.S. Signal Corps (then part of the Army and a predecessor of the U.S. Air Force) in 1917. By 1918, he was commissioned to serve as second lieutenant in World War I, but the war ended before he deployed. Soon after the war, Robertson started an aviation business in St. Louis with his brother: they provided entertainment, transport, and education on aeronautics to the public. In 1926, after almost a decade of government airmail service, the Postmaster General began contracting private companies to deliver airmail—the second of which was the Robertson Aircraft Corporation. They were tasked with delivering mail from St. Louis to Chicago. The first pilot they hired for this journey was Charles Lindbergh, who would later be known for his flight across the Atlantic, which Robertson helped fund.
In early 1929, Robertson was called to China to organize and develop the air mail services. He planned routes from Nanjing to Beijing, Shanghai to Wuhan (formerly known as Hankou), and Wuhan to Guangzhou (then Canton). As president of Aviation Exploration Incorporated, Robertson signed a contract with China Airways for operation of the routes he charted; the airway was later merged into China National Aviation Corporation. He did the same in Turkey, flying from Istanbul to survey potential routes across the country in early 1932. The first public air transportation in Turkey occurred in 1933 in Ankara. Another airport was founded in Adana, a city Robertson surveyed, also in 1933.
In November 1929, the town of Anglum, Missouri, close to the St. Louis flying field (now the site of St. Louis Lambert International Airport), was renamed Robertson in his honor. The town was later absorbed by the city of Hazelwood. Robertson was killed in a crash of a demonstration glider in 1943, on his home flying field in St. Louis.