Charles E. Taylor: Who is he and why should we honor him?

Charles E. Taylor, born May 24, 1868 on a farm in Illinois, was involved in many historical events related to the growth of aviation.

Taylor returned to Dayton in 1912 after the death of Wilbur and worked at the Wright Company testing motors and other mechanical engineering. Even though he later moved to California, Taylor received moral support and financial support from Orville until his death.

In the ’30s he assisted in reconstructing the Wright Bicycle Shop at the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI, under the direction of Henry Ford who wanted to preserve the historical artifacts. Taylor traveled to Ohio and Pennsylvania tracking down the machinery he used in the bicycle shop. The lathe was found in Miamisburg, OH; the drill press in Dayton; and the band saw at a college in Pennsylvania. The machines had been kept in the shop until 1910 when the Wright-Martin Company sold the machinery to the Patterson Tool and Supply Company, which then sold the items to others. There was a good paper trail for Taylor to locate and identify the machines as being authentic. Orville Wright provided drawings and details of the wind tunnel for the exhibit.

The dedication of the Wright shop and homestead was held April 16, 1938, on what would have been Wilbur’s 75th birthday. Photos were taken of Taylor with Orville Wright and Henry Ford in honor of the event.

In 1940 and 1941 Taylor continued to preserve the past by building a half scale working model of the first aircraft engine using the original shop machinery and his own original tools.

FAA Recognition

Named in honor of Charles Taylor, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Charles Taylor “Master Mechanic” Award recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics.

The Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) airworthiness safety program manager, an airworthiness supervisor, and an airworthiness safety inspector make up a selection committee that reviews the application letters and selects qualified individuals. To be eligible for the award, you must have 50 years in aviation maintenance as an accredited mechanic or repairman and be an FAA-certificated mechanic or repairman for a minimum of 30 years.

The awards recipients receive a lapel pin and a certificate signed by the Administrator. The recipient’s spouse receives a smaller version of the lapel pin for his or her contribution. And the winner’s name is added to the "Role of Honor" book kept at the Washington, D.C., Federal Aviation Building.

Industry Recognition

There has been a development to raise the level of recognition of Taylor’s achievements over the last several years. AMT Day, May 24, was established to recognize Taylor and other aircraft mechanics. First, it was on a state-by-state basis, now the push is for a national holiday to be created by congress. The Professional Aviation Maintenance Association has taken the lead in the push for a national AMT Day resolution. It has created a flier to encourage support for the effort. And Richard Dilbeck, the man behind the push, is expanding the boundaries so there will be international recognition as well.

Schools, companies, associations, and others plan special festivities on May 24 each year to honor Taylor’s memory and increase the awareness of what mechanics contribute to the industry. Last year Embry-Riddle University renamed its Daytona Beach, FL, aircraft maintenance training school the Charles Taylor Department of Aviation Maintenance Science (AMS). The dedication ceremony included the unveiling of a bronze bust of Taylor and the speakers included Charles Taylor II, the great grandson of Taylor, and Howard DuFour, author of the book Charles E. Taylor: The Wright Brothers Mechanician.

So the next time someone asks who Taylor is, you can have an answer and another convert to recognizing the achievements of Charles Taylor and the aircraft mechanics of today.

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