I got a tweet earlier that said, "Celebrate 100th anniv. of the first flight across the US! Vin Fiz event on Sept. 17 at Boeing theatre." The tweet had a link to the event website: www.vinfizlongbeach.com.
I had known about Charles Taylor's important contribution to the Vin Fiz flight, so I clicked through the links to see what was said about him.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised by what I found. Nothing. Not a single mention.
Aircraft maintenance professionals know about Charles Taylor. We know that Taylor is recognized as the first aircraft mechanic. After automobile engine manufacturers of the day told the Wright Brothers that their specs for the engine's power and weight could not be met, Taylor, a mechanic in their bike shop, told them he could do it. He designed and built the engine that powered the Wright Flyer into history. If it weren’t for Taylor, who knows how long it would have been before the Taylors took to powered flight. Although aircraft mechanics know about Taylor, most others in our industry like pilots and flight attendants have no idea who he was. The general public knows about the Wright Brothers, but practically none of them know about Taylor.
In regards to the Vin Fiz flight, Charles Taylor accompanied pilot Cal Rodgers on his entire flight. Rodgers followed train tracks while Taylor and his crew followed on a train with airplane parts and tools in a train car for repairs and planned maintenance stops. Rodgers crashed so often, it is said the plane that made it to Long Beach had little more than one strut remaining of the original aircraft that departed from New York. If it weren’t for Taylor and his crew, Rodgers would have been stranded in Middleton, NY after the first of his many crashes.
Unfortunately, just like his little-known contribution to the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, it appears Taylor is again being forgotten in his contribution to the Vin Fiz flight.
If you would like to learn more about Taylor and other other aircraft mechanics of the past, I would highly recommend readingPioneer Mechanics in Aviation by D.O.M. magazine contributor Giacinta Bradley Koontz (Gia). Visit her website at www.harrietquimby.org to learn more.
Thanks for reading!