Each year, National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day is honored on May 24. And while the day holds great significance to the airline industry, many outsiders might not be familiar with its origins. For instance, how did it start and what does the commemoration symbolize? In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the history of the remembrance and why celebrating AMT Day is so important to the aviation industry as a whole.
What is an Aviation Maintenance Technician?
An Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMT) is one who holds an A&P certificate that allows them to perform aircraft maintenance. While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can issue a single certificate with an Airframe (A) rating or a Powerplant (P) rating, the A&P certificate allows a person to work on both the external and internal parts of the aircraft. This includes any part of the engines and the auxiliary power sections such as the fuselage (body) empennage (tail) and all sections within, following FAA regulations.
Charles Edward Taylor was an American inventor and machinist who built the very first aircraft engine used by the Wright Brothers. As an aviation mechanic, Taylor used his skills to build and maintain early engines and planes flown by the pair. The Federal Aviation Administration says it was Taylor’s craftmanship and expertise that turned the Wright glider into the history-making Wright Flyer.
“The Wright Brothers made strides in the world of flight, but at the same time, they also would not have been able to do so without their mechanic, Charles Taylor,” said Mark Holloway, Director of Education for the Aviation Institute of Maintenance and its 14 campuses. “Taylor found an engine that was light enough to fly and maintain throughout the duration of the flight.”
How has Aviation Technology Evolved?
During the early 1900s when the Wright Brothers were taking flight, airplanes were constructed of a far different material: wood. According to Holloway, it was actually cabinet makers who built these planes, creating them for World War I. For Taylor, his design and building of a four-cylinder aircraft engine, made of aluminum-copper, was based on rough sketches provided by the Wright Brothers.
Since that time, safety standards have continued to develop and the planes we know today now consist of sheet metal. However, as composites continue to be explored, the way that planes look in the future may soon be a lot different.
Aviation Maintenance’s Importance
While planes continue to change materials and appearance, there’s one thing that does remain consistent: the role of an aviation maintenance technician.
“When people ride in a plane, they always think of the pilots and the flight attendants, and not the person who has to fix and maintain the plane for it to actually fly,” said Holloway. “A day that honors aviation mechanics helps bring awareness that this job is real and it’s a viable career option.”
Holloway also says that aircraft mechanic who holds an A&P certificate has generally touched a multitude of industries, earning their distinction through extensive training or working experience. And while planes like a Cessna 150 are vastly different from that of an A380 aircraft, the role and hard work of the technician is still made possible through that same certificate.
Commemorating Aviation Maintenance Technician Day
To celebrate Charles Taylor and his role as the first aviation mechanic who developed the first airplane engine used in a motorized flight, National AMT Day is celebrated on his birthday each year, May 24.
According to Congressional records, in 2007, a resolution supporting the recognition of the day was first introduced, sponsored by Congressman Bob Filner of California. That resolution passed the following year and is now observed in 45 states annually. The day is meant to honor the achievements of Taylor as well as aviation maintenance professionals and their continued efforts for the modern flight.
Shaping the Aviation Maintenance Industry for a Younger Generation
As Aviation Maintenance Day continues to grow, the commemoration is also bringing awareness to the industry as a whole. Schools like AIM, with its 14 campuses nationwide, are shaping the aircraft mechanics of tomorrow.
“Whether it’s hydraulics, pneumatics, electricity, or avionics, AMTs are earning such vast experience as the aviation industry continues to evolve,” said Holloway, who has been with the school for over 25 years. “Aviation Maintenance Technician Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of this incredible career and let those younger generations know that becoming an aviation maintenance technician is both attainable and an in-demand option.”
Building Awareness and Honor in the Community
On Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, many of the AIM campuses will hold special events as a way to connect with their communities. Whether it’s a barbecue or an ice cream social, the day gives the schools an opportunity to open their doors and show their neighbors what the industry is.
“When we bring people in and they see these big airplanes beyond our doors, they gain a better understanding of the role of aviation maintenance technicians,” said Holloway. “This day allows us to slow down and take in our accomplishments and how far we’ve come over the years.”
And no matter what planes look like down the line, Aviation Maintenance Technician Day will still be a way to honor and pay tribute to Taylor and his accomplishments in the air.