Charles Edward “Charlie” Taylor is not a household name. He is, in many respects, a typical “Forgotten Man,” whose contributions have been all but forgotten throughout aviation history. Charlie Taylor, born May 24, 1868 in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, quit school at age 12, was essentially self-educated, and had a brilliant, mechanically inclined mind. He settled in Dayton, Ohio where, through serendipitous circumstances, he met Orville and Wilbur of Wright brothers’ fame.
Fast forward…and Charlie began working for the Wright Brothers on June 15, 1901 repairing bicycles and keeping shop, allowing Orville and Wilbur freedom to pursue their work with flying machines. Charlie accomplished many tasks for the Wrights while they pursued their dream of powered flight, allowing Charlie to demonstrate his genius. When the Wrights could not interest nearly a dozen automobile manufacturers to build a powerful, lightweight engine needed for their purpose, Charlie took on the task. Without instruction books, formal drawings, manuals, handbooks, or tooling, Charlie completed the task in just six weeks. The rest is history.
Charlie worked for the Wrights for over a decade, and logged many “firsts” as a pioneering icon in aviation maintenance. In addition to building the first aircraft engine, he became the first Airport Manager. He participated in building the first military airplane, and he engineered the first transcontinental flight. He was the first person to investigate a fatal powered flight accident, and Charles E. Taylor was inducted into the USAF Museum as the very first airplane mechanic.
This month, CALLBACK pays tribute to Charles E. Taylor and is dedicated to the thousands of Aviation Maintenance Technicians, men and women, who keep America’s aircraft airworthy and return them to service when they require servicing, repair, or periodic maintenance.
The Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) who submitted the following reports have contributed to improved maintenance practices. Their contributions to aviation safety exemplify commitment and dedication in the tradition of Charles E. Taylor.