Association Keeps Memory of Wright Brothers’ Mechanic Alive

In an effort to remind people of the key role Charles Taylor played in building the first airplane, the Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association raised more than $6,000 to put a bronze bust of Taylor in the U.S. Air Force Museum.

When people think of the first flight, the Wright Brothers are the first people to come to mind.

But the Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association would like to see another guy who helped that plane get into the air more than a century ago get some recognition.

That’s why AMTA raised the funds for a $6,000 bronze bust of Charles Taylor, the man who built the engine that helped the airline industry take flight in 1903. The bust was introduced Monday at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Taylor, who worked at Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bicycle shop when he put together the engine that lifted the brothers off the dunes in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, also had several other firsts: He managed the first airport and was the mechanic on the first cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles. (Calbraith Perry Rodgers’ groundbreaking flight, by the way, took 49 days, instead of the roughly six hours we’re used to now. Taylor followed Rodgers by train.)

This engine was more than capable of carrying the weight of 625 pounds of machines and man.

In describing Taylor’s first airplane engine, the San Diego-based AMTA noted that Taylor outdid the Wrights’ own parameters for the engine, which required that it weigh less than 180 pounds and deliver eight to nine horsepower.

“With the skill, knowledge, and integrity Charlie possessed, he provided the Wrights with a four-cylinder engine with four-inch stroke and four-inch bore weighing 150 pounds and delivering 13 horsepower on the brake,” AMTA explains in a post on its website. “All this was done in only six weeks! This engine was more than capable of carrying the weight of 625 pounds of machines and man.”

Remembering Background Players

Speaking at the museum event, association founder Ken MacTiernan said AMTA hopes the bust will remind the public of the role people in technical jobs play in getting planes off the ground.

“Charlie was a very humble person, never sought the limelight, and … history kind of forgot the men and women behind the scenes who maintained the aircraft,” MacTiernan told the Dayton Daily News.

This is not Taylor’s first bronze bust. Sculptor Virginia K. Hess, who made the Air Force Museum sculpture, has also created other versions, including one for the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

(Ken LaRock/U.S. Air Force photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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