The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award is named in honor of Charles Taylor, the first aviation mechanic in powered flight. Taylor served as the Wright brothers' mechanic and is credited with designing and building the engine for their first successful aircraft. The award recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics.
Joe Huffman, Sr., an FAA Certification Engineer with Duncan Aviation, and Bernard Michael, a former long-time technician with Duncan Aviation, were recently honored as recipients of the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award.
The Nebraska Aviation Mechanics Seminar committee and the Federal Aviation Administration presented them with the awards at a banquet on the evening of January 29 in Kearney. The presentation was conducted in conjunction with the annual evening banquet at the Nebraska Aviation Mechanics and IA Renewal Seminar.
Award recipients are required to have worked for a period of 50 years in an aviation maintenance career and must have been an FAA-certificated mechanic or repairman working on N-registered aircraft maintained under the Federal aviation regulations for a minimum of 30 of the 50 years required.
Joe Huffman, Sr., has been employed in aviation for 50 years, 48 of those years being dedicated to serving at Duncan Aviation. He was initially hired at Duncan Aviation as a mechanic. Joe first became a pilot just after graduating from Lincoln High School in 1961. After graduation, he worked for Wallace Tiller in Bellevue as a landscaper until 1963. From there, he went on to his first aviation job in 1963, working at South Omaha airport in Omaha, Nebraska. He resided there until 1965, when he moved to Denison, Iowa, and worked as a mechanic, instructor and charter pilot until 1967. He moved back to Lincoln in 1967 to work at Duncan Aviation and has remained there since.
“As a longtime Duncan Aviation team member myself, I have known Joe for years. I looked up to him and was mentored by him when I first started with Duncan Aviation,” says Darwin Godemann, Master Mechanic for Duncan Aviation and Lead Program Coordinator for The Nebraska Aviation Maintenance and IA Seminar Committee of The Nebraska Aviation Council.
Joe Huffman, Sr., Bernard Michael, George Czarnecki
During World War II, Bernard Michael developed a love of aviation from watching B-17s rumble over his father’s farm as they made their way from the Boeing factory toward the European Theater. When Bernard came of age, he served his country by joining the Air Force; he spent most of his military duty working Counter Intelligence in the Philippines. After leaving the military, he attended Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, where he graduated with an Airframe/Powerplant license and a commercial pilot certificate.
In January 1966, Michael started his 50-year aircraft maintenance career with Douglas Aircraft Co. in Tulsa, Okla. Moving around the Midwest, Bernard repaired flight controls for Douglas Aircraft Co. in Oklahoma, performed IA inspections in Iowa, agricultural spraying in Kansas, and was a jet airframe shop supervisor for Duncan Aviation in Nebraska. Receiving the FAA’s Central Region Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Accident Prevention was one of the highlights of his aviation career.
Retired now, Michael continues to perform aircraft maintenance for friends at the Lincoln Airport and enjoys assisting with local air shows.
“When I first started at Duncan Aviation and began working in the Jet Shop, Bernard was my supervisor and was like a father figure to me,” Godemann says. “Bernard would not only provide guidance, he would encourage me to use my training and best judgment when tackling complex maintenance tasks. His encouragement and confidence in my abilities in those days still serves me to this day.”
A third aviation technician, George Czarnecki of Central Cylinder Service in Omaha, was also presented with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award at the banquet.