Written by Phil Cerroni
Students settled into folding chairs set up in the hanger at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) in Irving on Sept. 25 where, surrounded by gutted aircraft and exposed airplane engines, their professor, Gerald Longley, received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award. Named after the Wright Brothers’ mechanic, it is the FAA’s most prestigious award for aircraft mechanics, recognizing a veteran mechanic’s lifetime accomplishments.
Of the 290,108 certified A&P mechanics, only 1,868 – one half of one percent – have earned this award, after dedicating 50 years of service, for the dedicated service, technical expertise, professionalism and general contributing to the industry that goes along with it.
“So if you look at it, 50 years is quite a contribution and…passion for what you do. A lot of ethics are involved. Everything that they do have gone into this, and they’re quite gifted people,” said Kevin Taylor, the FAA’s representative at the ceremony.
Taylor presented Longley and his wife, Norma, with pins emblazoned with an image of the Wright Brothers’ original craft superimposed over the silhouette of a modern jet. Each pin was also set with a small stone.