Charles E Taylor was the first aviation mechanic in powered flight. While the Wright Brothers are credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane, it was Taylor who built the engine used in the Wright Flyer.
Known as The Mechanician, Charles E. Taylor was born on May 24, 1968. He came from humble beginnings as the son of a hog farmer. As he matured, Taylor realized his natural skillset for tools and machine work, which led him to opening his own business.
In 1894, he married Henrietta Webbert. It was through her family that Taylor met Orville and Wilbur Wright. While living in Dayton, Ohio, Taylor often did business with the Wright Brothers, but in 1901 they offered Taylor employment at the Wright Cycle Company. The Wright Cycle Company manufactured bicycles, but the Wright Brothers had their eyes on the sky.
In their mission for a motor operated airplane, the Wright Brothers required an engine. Failing to find an engineer who would agree to building the engine, the Wright Brothers turned to Taylor. He constructed the engine, by hand, in 6 weeks. On December 17, 1903 history was made when Taylor’s engine powered the world’s first successful manned heavier-than-air powered and controlled aircraft.
Taylor continued to be a vital contributor of mechanical skills in the building and maintaining of early Wright engines and airplanes. It is assumed that Taylor was not only the aviation maintenance technician (AMT), but also an instructor at the Wright School of Aviation – teaching the pilots the ins and outs of each aircraft.
While Taylor didn’t receive the recognition he deserved while he was living, once his contributions to the first powered flight were discovered, word began to spread. Due to his achievements, Aviation Maintenance Day is celebrated on May 24th, Charles E. Taylor’s birthday. The date honors AMTs while celebrating the achievements of Charles E. Taylor.
A Name Worthy Award the Federal Aviation Administration honors Taylor’s memory and accomplishments through The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award which recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics who have 50 or more years of aviation maintenance experience.
The Portal of Folded Wings Charles E. Taylor died January 30, 1956. He is buried at the Portal of the Folded Wings, a monument to early aviation pioneers.
A Path for Future AMTs
Charles E. Taylor’s natural skillset for tools and machine work led him to a great achievement. Where will your hands-on skills lead you?
The Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, has led the industry in providing certificated aircraft mechanics for over 90 years. The training at PIA emphasizes hands-on learning through projects designed to prepare you for a career in the aviation industry.
Take the Career Readiness Quiz to find out if a career in aviation is right for you.