Azriel “Al” Blackman
Defining What an Airline Mechanic Should Be
Charles Edward Taylor (May 24, 1868 – January 30, 1956) was the 1st airplane mechanic. In 1901 the Wright Brothers turned to Taylor to help build an engine with the required power-to-weight ratio for First Flight. Charles upgraded engines and repairing the Wright Brothers’ airplanes. Eventually, he was named the airport manager for Huffman Prairie and he became the father of aviation maintenance.
In 1942, Azriel “Al” Blackman went to work for American Export Airlines (at $0.50 per hour as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop), while Taylor was still alive. The end and the beginning of these two highly professional mechanics’ careers overlap. The then young Mr. Blackman carries the tradition of excellence in maintenance as he still comes to work at age 91.
While Taylor worked exclusively on Wright Aircraft, Blackman prefers Boeing products and he has worked on all their models from 1940s-era flying boats to and including the B-777.
“When you like what you do, it’s not work,” Blackman said in a statement. The company, in recognition of his age, placed restrictions on his fun — he’s not allowed to climb ladders, drive on the airfield or use any tools His current assignment is to keep track of what work has been completed by the AMTs and to determine what yet needs to be done before releasing the aircraft as airworthy.
The company recently a celebrated this milestone in New York. One of American’s Boeing 777s was painted with his name and the #75 in his honor. Then the crew boarded the Blackman 777 for a commemorative flight over Manhattan to celebrate.
Charles Taylor and Al Blackman define what an airline mechanic should be.
Here is a short Associated Press video from five years ago when Blackman celebrated his 70th work anniversary.