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Public Statements

Supporting the Goals and Ideals of National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank the Speaker and I thank our House Speaker for bringing this to the floor today, H. Res. 444, a resolution which supports the goals and ideals of National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, honoring the invaluable contributions of Charles Edward Taylor, regarded as the father of aviation maintenance, and recognizing the essential role of aviation maintenance technicians in ensuring the safety and security of civil and military aircraft.

With all the concerns, Mr. Speaker, today about safety and airlines, it is the men and women who actually do the maintenance that we depend on so greatly.

It was Charles Edward Taylor who built and maintained the engine that was used to power the Wright brothers' first controlled aircraft, the Flyer, and he was born in 1868. He is widely regarded as the father of aviation maintenance, and was a vital contributor of mechanical skills in the building and maintaining of early Wright brothers engines and airplanes. Taylor also built the wind tunnel used by the Wrights to test their early designs. He became a leading mechanic in the Wright Aircraft Company when it was formed in 1909. In fact, when Calbraith Perry Rodgers made his famous cross-country trip in a Wright brothers aircraft, he paid Charles Edward Taylor $70 a week, a pretty large sum at the time, to be his mechanic. Taylor followed the flight by train, making required repairs and preparing the aircraft for the next day's flight throughout the cross-country trip from Long Island to California.

Although Taylor was largely ignored by history, it is important to note that the Wright brothers were very close friends with him, and remained in close contact with him throughout their lives.

Charles Edward Taylor saved enough money from his ventures to buy several hundred acres of farmland near the Salton Sea, which is located in my district. However, the economic climate of the time eventually brought him to poverty, and he died penniless in 1956 at the age of 87. He was buried at the Portal of Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation in Burbank, California.

Mr. Speaker, the humble beginnings of the aviation maintenance profession belies the fact that all of us in the Congress and our constituents rely on the work that these technicians do every day. They play an invaluable role not only in ensuring the safety of commercial aircraft, but also ensuring that our men and women in uniform have safe, reliable planes and helicopters while in their combat and training. Thanks to these dedicated, well-trained professionals, the United States has by far the safest air transportation system in the world. We owe aircraft mechanics a debt of gratitude for their service to the flying public.

We are hearing a lot today about consolidations in the airline industry, and some airlines have already been outsourcing aviation maintenance abroad to cut their costs. I urge everyone in this Chamber to remember how critical it is for our own safety to have a well-trained U.S.-based workforce to fix and maintain our aircraft. As the airline industry seeks to cut costs and merge, it is very important for all of us to keep a watchful eye on the impact of these consolidations on aviation maintenance technicians. We cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to safety.

Mr. Speaker, 45 U.S. States have already declared May 24 to be Aviation Maintenance Technician Day within their jurisdictions. My resolution is intended to support these efforts and honor aviation maintenance technicians, including the first, Charles Edward Taylor. I urge all my colleagues to vote for H. Res. 444.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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