Charlie Taylor

From Academic Kids

Charles Edward "Charlie" Taylor (May 24, 1868 - January 30, 1956) built the engine used by the Wright brothers in their early aircraft, the Flyer. Taylor also built the wind tunnel used by the Wrights to test models of their designs.

Initially Taylor was hired to fix bicycles, but increasingly took over the running of the bicycle side of the business as the Wright brothers spent more and more time on their inventions.

When it became clear that an off-the-shelf engine with the required power-to-weight ratio was not available in the USA, the Wrights turned to Taylor to design and construct one. Talor built the aluminum, water-cooled engine from scratch and without drawings in only six weeks.

When Calbraith Perry Rodgers made his trip from Long Island to California in 1911 in his newly-bought Wright aircraft, he paid Taylor $70 a week (a large sum at the time) to be his mechanic. Taylor followed the flight by train, frequently arriving at the next rendezvous before Perry Rodgers, to make any required repairs and prepare the aircraft for the next day's flight.

Taylor saved enough money from his adventures to buy several hundred acres of farmland near Salton Sea. However the economic climate of the time eventually brough him to poverty. He died penniless and alone in hospital in 1956.

Although largely ignored by history, it would be wrong to think the Wright Brothers exploited Taylor or took credit for his achievements. All three of these early pioneers were close friends and Taylor remained in close contact with the last surviving Wight brother, Orville, until Orville's death in 1948.

Charlie Taylor is buried at the Portal of the Folded Wings in Burbank, CA, a shrine to aviation history.

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