A top honor in aviation maintenance is the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award. The award is named after the first aircraft mechanic, Charles Taylor. Charles Taylor worked with the Wright Brothers. He was originally hired to work in the bicycle shop, but was welcomed into the fold during early glider experiments. He created the first aircraft engine, maintained the first aircraft that completed a transcontinental flight, and managed the first airport.
Many people may not know that aviation maintenance was a life-long career for Charles Taylor. Charles began his work in aviation with the Wright brothers. Shortly after moving to Dayton, Taylor was introduced to the Wrights’ by his wife’s’ uncle. He did mechanical jobs for the Wright Cycle Company from time to time. Upon learning that Charles wasn’t happy at his job at Dayton Electric, he offered him a position. Charles started by running the shop while the Wright brothers were working on flight experiments as well as building and repairing bicycles. Shortly, the Wright brothers sought his help with aviation.
Charles built the wind tunnel needed for glider (and later Flyer) designs. After the aircraft was ready, the Wright brothers needed an engine. After contacting many companies with specifications, no one would agree to build the engine. Charles Taylor built the engine within 6 weeks, exceeding requirements. The engine was used for the first successful powered flight.
Charles continued working with the Wrights brothers, repairing their gliders and assisting with design. As flight became more accessible and popular, the team was contacted by a man that was hoping to make the first transcontinental flight in 30 days. Orville served as the flight instructor, Charles as the mechanic. Charles brought all the tools and replacement parts needed on the journey. The aircraft needed major repairs throughout the trip, the total aircraft crashes totaled 16. The aircraft successfully made it to the finish line, with only 2 original parts left on it. This is a testament to the amount of work completed and skill of Charles Taylor.
Later in life, Charles went to work for North American Aviation. He never let on about his background to his co-workers. He then worked for Ford, and then assisted with the war effort. Charles Taylor spent most of his life working on powered aviation and aircraft maintenance.
The Master Mechanic Award honors mechanics that have dedicated a lifetime to aircraft mechanics. Award recipients must be a US citizen, cumulated 50 years of service in aviation maintenance, and held an FAA certification for 30 years. Mechanics applying for the award include a resume, 3 letters of recommendation, and a letter of certificates held. This award is closely affiliated with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. At the time of this publication, 2,330 mechanics have received this award.
The Professional AMT Award is provided by the Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association. The award is presented at the Aerospace Maintenance Competition that takes place during the MRO Americas trade show. Each individual that participates in the maintenance competition is eligible to take the Charles E. Taylor Exam. The award is presented to the AMT professional and AMT student with the highest exam score.