(Reuters) - The bike mechanic who designed and built the lightweight aluminum engine for Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first powered aircraft was honored this week with a bronze bust at an aviation museum in Ohio.
Charles E. Taylor, a mechanic at the Wright brothers’ Dayton, Ohio, bicycle shop, built the engine that powered the first successful airplane flight, which flew in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
On Monday, a bust of aviation’s first mechanic was unveiled at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.
“Without him coming up with this engine, because it had to weigh less than 180 pounds, they wouldn’t have been able to make their powered flights,” museum spokesman Rob Bardua said on Tuesday.
Along with the bust at the National Museum, the Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association, a non-profit created to promote Taylor’s work, commissioned Taylor busts for other locations including the Smithsonian; the U.S. Air Force Academy; the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.
Taylor’s contributions to aviation had been largely forgotten by the 1950s and he was at a charity hospital when his plight was uncovered by a reporter, according to published reports. The aviation industry raised funds to allow him to spend his last months at a private facility. He died in 1956.
Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech