Charles E. Taylor (1868-1956): The First Aviation Mechanic Charlie Taylor was a brilliant, self-taught mechanic who made a crucial contribution to the Wright brothers' invention of the airplane. When a suitable engine was not available for the first flight, he designed and built the first successful airplane engine in only six weeks. This made the Wright brothers' pioneering powered flights possible. Taylor began working in the Wrights' bicycle business in 1896, and he played an important role in their flying experiments for several years. He also served as chief mechanic for the first transcontinental flight, from New York to California, achieved in 1911 by Cal Rodgers. Charlie Taylor's birthday, May 24, is celebrated as Aviation Maintenance Technician Day. Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.