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We all know the tale of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Kitty Hawk, and the human flight experiment. But how many of us recognize Charles Edward Taylor's name? He came to work with the Wrights in 1902, just as the science progressed to powered flight. The automobile manufacturers couldn't find an engine that was both light enough and robust enough for flight.
Enter Taylor. He built the 12-horsepower engine, which propelled the Wright's aeroplane 20 feet above the wind-swept North Carolina beach, and was a craftsman by trade, with a metal lathe, drill press, and other hand tools. The longest flight took place 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet. Taylor took six weeks to build the engine, but history books seldom mention the man who made the historic December 17, 1903, flight possible.
Beyond first flight
Taylor continued to develop aircraft engines for the Wright brothers while also instructing them how to build their own. He was named the airport manager when the first airport was established (by the Wrights).
The Wright brothers were awarded a military contract for the first military plane with Taylor designing and building the engine.
In 1911, William Randolph Hearst gave the first pilot to fly across the United States in 30 days or less. Taylor's adventures continued in 1911 when William Randolph Hearst gave up a cash award to the first pilot to fly through the United States in 30 days or less. Cal Rodgers, a young pilot, accepted the challenge and recruited Charles Taylor as his mechanic.
Rodgers made it, landing and crashing from New York to Pasadena, with Taylor following along in a car.
Charles Taylor worked in aviation repair for more than 60 years. Like Taylor, aviation maintenance technicians around the world work in the background, safeguarding civilian and military aircraft. We celebrate their contributions and humble roots on May 24th, their achievements and humble past.
How to plan an aviation maintenance technician's day
Honor the innovators of aviation, even though they may be behind the scenes. Learn about aviation maintenance and thank those who keep us on the air and keep us there. To post on social media, use the hashtag #AviationMaintenaceTechnicianDay.
The day of the aviation maintenance technician day was the longest in history
The FAA established the prestigious Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award in 2001 to honor AMTs who had spent at least 50 years in aircraft repair, thanks to Richard Dilbeck's efforts in 2001. Senator Knight of California introduced a bill in honor of Charles Taylor's birthday each year.