WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force honored the first aviation mechanic, Charles E. Taylor, by unveiling a bronze bust of his likeness for permanent display during a ceremony in the museum’s Early Years Gallery Monday.
A brilliant, self-taught man, Taylor began working in the Wrights’ bicycle business in 1896, and played an important role in their flying experiments for several years. Unable to find a manufacturer who could build an engine to their specifications - weighing no more than 180 lbs. and delivering 8-9 horsepower - the Wright brothers turned to Taylor. In just six weeks Taylor designed and built the engine that made their pioneering powered flights possible.
According to Museum Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson, the Taylor bust is a fitting addition to the museum since the story of the Wright brothers cannot be fully told without him.
“The importance of Charles Taylor’s role in helping the Wright brothers achieve their dream of heavier-than-air powered flight should not be understated,” Hudson said. “His development of a lightweight engine for propulsion was critical, and Taylor’s story of innovation serves as an inspiration – especially for those pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”
Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association (AMTA), a non-profit organization created in 2002 to promote Taylor for his contributions to aviation, the United States and those who have followed in his footsteps, commissioned Dayton artist Virginia Hess to create the bust for the museum.
According AMTA Director Ken MacTiernan, having a bust of Taylor on display at the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force will ensure that his contributions to aviation history are well remembered.
“The National Museum of the U. S. Air Force was chosen because of the respect given to the museum by its visitors worldwide,” said MacTiernan. “The quality of exhibits and displays is second to none, and having the museum as a place that Taylor can call ‘home’ just seems highly appropriate.”
In addition to the bust at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, AMTA has commissioned other Charles E. Taylor busts at the following locations: San Diego Air & Space Museum; Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center; American Airlines maintenance facilities in Kansas City, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla.; Alliance, Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport; Le Mans Sarthe France and the United States Air Force Academy.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony today included Taylor’s grandson, Reuben Taylor, and great-grandson, Charles Taylor II.
For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.
Story by Rob Bardua, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.