TAYLOR: THE MECHANICIAN BEHIND THE FIRST AIRPLANE ENGINE.
Charles Taylor has often been referred to as the “unsung hero of Aviation” (Howard, 1987). In preparation for this paper, numerous sources have been reviewed and researched to include, books, essays, television programs, and, of course, internet articles. More often than not, when discussing the first airplane engine, Charlie Taylor is either given praise for his contribution to the first flight or not mentioned at all. In a few of the books that were researched, Wilbur and Orville Wright are given sole credit for the design and construction of the first engine. This paper will only reference those events and recollections that tell of Taylor’s life and his work with the Wright brothers. In 1902, Charlie designed, forged, and assembled an aircraft engine for the Wright flyer (Kirk, 1995). It was everything that the Wrights had hoped and surprised them at how well it performed. This first engine would prove to be the catapult that launched the, then-labelled, hobby of flying to the world stage.
CHARLES E. TAYLOR: THE MECHANICIAN BEHIND THE FIRST AIRPLANE ENGINE.
Charles E. Taylor was born on a small farm outside of Cerro Gordo, Illinois, on May 24, 1868 (Crouch, 1989). As a young boy, he moved, with his family, to Lincoln, Nebraska. He dropped out of school at age 12 and went to work for the Nebraska State Journal as an errand boy. He soon discovered his mechanical inclinations and started working with the machinery in the Journal’s binding factory. Eventually, he graduated from Lincoln High School and, for eighteen months after graduation, he owned and operated his own machine shop (Crouch, 1989).
In his 20’s Charlie moved to Kearney, Nebraska, where he made and sold metal house numbers. There, in 1892, he met a young lady named Henrietta Webbert and married her two years later. Coincidentally, Henrietta’s family, at one time, lived in Dayton, Ohio, and, at that time, became acquainted with a man by the name of Bishop Milton Wright.