On April 15, Maintenance’s Don Hammer received the highest award that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has to offer to Mechanics, the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award. The award honors Don’s 30 years as a licensed Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) and his fifty years in the aviation industry. President Emeritus Colleen Barrett, Executive Vice President Operations Mike Van de Ven, dignitaries from the FAA, Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), and his proud family and friends joined him for this special celebration.
At the ceremony, Don spoke about how he managed to fit more than 50 years of work into his life. “It’s easy,” he said, “I just joined the service fresh out of school. They taught me how to fix airplanes, and I kept doing it.” Don’s Warrior Spirit and commitment to excellence is reminiscent of the award’s namesake, Charles “Charlie” Taylor.
Charlie was the mechanic in Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bicycle shop in 1903, that pivotal year when the Wright brothers rode out of their bicycle shop and into the sky. He solved a technical problem that had plagued all would-be-aviators before the Wrights—the problem of getting enough power without weighing down the aircraft. After Kitty Hawk, he served as the Wrights’ machinist and mechanic throughout their lives. He was also purported to be a darn good bicycle mechanic.
Charlie remained a mechanic for almost 60 years, committed to aviation and to the legacy of the Wrights. Southwest Maintenance sees that same Servant’s Heart in Don Hammer, and we salute his tribute to the profession he shares with this American hero.