In 2000, Joshua Lang joined the U.S. Army and was a Longbow Apache helicopter mechanic in the 6th Cavalry. He was strongly influenced by the stories he heard of his grandfather Oscar, who worked at Travis Air Force Base as a flying mechanic, and a crew chief who performed all maintenance test flights.
Initially based in Germany, Joshua’s unit was involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. While serving in Afghanistan, Lang decided to pursue his two passions, photography and theater and investigated the possibility of a career in film.
Over a decade later, with the skills and tools he had acquired, he began a documentary titled ‘Apache Warrior’ about his unit at the opening hours of the war in Iraq as a tribute to all the pilots that flew the aircraft.
As he worked on the documentary, Lang realized that films are nearly always about pilots flying aircraft on a mission, but none are made about mechanics. And the more he thought about it, the more he realized that it was well about time that a film be made about the skilled, hard-working people that work daily to keep those machines in the air…as he had done with the 6th Cav, and as his grandfather had done before him.
In 2019, Lang visited the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation, and there, beneath its dome, he discovered the final resting place of Charles E. Taylor, the first aviation mechanic who designed and built the first successful airplane engine for the Wright Brother’s first pioneering powered flight in 1903. Lang did further research and found a book titled Charlie Taylor 1868-1956, the Wright Brothers Mechanician. Soon after, he traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to learn more about Taylor. There, he screened ‘Apache Warrior’ to the Huffman Prairie Historical Society, and he was introduced to the Wright and Taylor families. In the following nine months, Lang produced a 12-minute short film that explained the history of Charles Taylor. He interviewed over twenty aviation historians, mechanics, pilots, and descendants before production slowed down when the COVID pandemic hit in 2020.
Josh Lang said, “I’m just trying to find these fine threads of a man that preferred to be in the background and weave this elegant tapestry of his life and his effect on aviation. His story is very powerful for the American aviation community, from working with the Wrights to helping with the Vin Fiz Flyer, which was an early Wright Brothers pusher biplane that in 1911 became the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast, from Long Island, New York to Long Beach, California.”
Charles Taylor has been called, ‘the man aviation history almost forgot.’ “I think that it’s important to be able to give those aviation pioneers’ recognition, and I am very proud to be able to share this history with aviation maintenance technicians at the over 17,000 airports speckled all over the globe,” said Lang, “I really feel the personal connection to this story, and I hope I am able to put together a film that lives up to the legends of Charles E. Taylor and the industry he pioneered.”
To learn more about Josh Lang’s documentary, The Mechanician, please check out the video below.
Aviation Maintenance Technician Day & the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award
Aviation Maintenance Technician Day is a day of recognition observed on May 24 (Charles Taylor’s birthday), that recognizes the efforts of aviation maintenance professionals as well as the achievements of Charles E. Taylor, the man who built the engine used to power the airplane of the Wright Brothers.
The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award is named in honor of Charles Taylor, the first aviation mechanic in powered flight. The Master Mechanic Award recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics.
In March 2023, the FAA awarded the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, to Long Island mechanic Ed Libassi of Shoreham, New York for 50 years of service.
At the age of 18, Edward graduated from Aviation High School and received his Airframe and Power Plant Maintenance licenses. Libassi began his career as a mechanic at Eastern Airlines, Kennedy Airport, and worked there for 16 years until 1991 when the airline went out of business. In 1972 Libassi founded and is the owner and president of A&P Aircraft Maintenance at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, Long Island.
The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award is given only to those with more than 50 years of aviation service, honoring an individual’s lifetime accomplishments, sacrifice, and dedication to the aviation industry.