Master Mechanics

The Master Mechanic Award is named in honor of Charles E. Taylor, the first aircraft mechanic. To be eligible for this award, a recipient must have served at least 50 years as an aviation mechanic and also have been an FAA-certified mechanic for a minimum of 30 years. Along with a commemorative plaque, their honors will be recorded in a permanent leather bound book in Washington, D.C.

Dave Becker

Dave Becker’s aviation career began as an Air Force mechanic; after military discharge he attended and graduated from the Spartan School of Aeronautics. He was employed by Northwest Airlines as a DC-6 mechanic, Republic Aircraft, and then he moved to Eastern Airlines, where he had a 29-year career, progressing to lead mechanic and aircraft inspector. Following his retirement from Eastern Airlines, Becker continued plying his skills at Georgia Tech and Raytheon Aircraft. Residing now in Fayetteville, GA, he has served as crew chief on the PT-26 Cornell and the C-45 Expediter at the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force at Falcon Field in Peachtree City, GA. Koldoff and Becker are only the 14th and 15th Georgia residents to receive the Master Mechanic Award.

Elmer Koldoff

Elmer Koldoff of Peachtree City, GA, began his aviation career with Capital Airlines, that later became part of United Airlines, where he remained until his retirement. He progressed through the ranks of line mechanic, aircraft inspector, maintenance planner, maintenance foreman, and into management positions as operations manager and station maintenance controller. Transferred by United to Atlanta in 1989, he retired 10 years later with responsibility for aircraft maintenance in Atlanta, Orlando, and Tampa. Koldoff has been involved in restoring military aircraft as a volunteer at Falcon Field in Peachtree City, the home of Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. He serves as maintenance officer for all of the Dixie Wing aircraft and ground equipment.

Harold Lee Summers

Harold Summers, Arlington, VA, director of flight operations and technical services for Helicopter Association International, received his Charles Taylor Award at Heli-Expo in March. He received his A&P in 1960 and early in his career woked at Baxter Aircraft in Yakima, WA; WenAirCo in Wenatchee, WA; and Rick Helicopters in San Francisco, CA.

The majority of his career was spent at Petroleum Helicopters in Lafayette, LA, where he was responsible for the oversight and management of maintenance planning, maintenance training arrangements, and for providing technical guidance to maintenance personnel. He developed standardized quality programs and safety standards to meet both domestic and international customer requirements. He managed the QA departments and assisted in development of industry standards with HAI and the American Helicopter Society. Phil Randall, assistant national manager of the FAASTeam, presented the award to Summers.

Gary Underland

Gary Underland of Medford, MN, received both the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at the 2011 Minnesota Aviation Maintenance Technician Conference. He worked at Rohr Corp., Chula Vista, CA; South Minnesota Aviation Service, Owatonna, MN; Sky Farmer Aerial Sprayers, Waseca, MN; Eagle Aviation, Faribault, MN; and Aerodrome, Owatonna, MN. He’s been engaged in rebuilding and restoring antique aircraft since 1961, and had a long association with the late Buzz Kaplan. In 2006 he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. Gary was an apprentice A&P from 1961 to 1968; he became an IA in 1971.

Howard Webster

Howard Webster was awarded the Charles Taylor Award on April 20, 2011, by Jeffrey Halliday, principle maintenance inspector, Allegheny Flight Standards District Office, Pittsburgh, PA. The majority of Webster’s career was at USAir; he also worked at Aloha Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Mohawk Airlines, and Allegheny Aviation Consulting Corp. He received training at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology. 

We congratulate the winners for their dedication to the aircraft maintenance industry. If you have received the Master Mechanic Award or know someone who has, let us know. Send to