Mark Welke, Northern Michigan University assistant professor of Technology and Occupational Sciences, has been awarded the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award. Tim Sokol of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made the official presentation Thursday afternoon at the Jacobetti Complex.
The award is named in honor of the first aviation mechanic in powered flight and recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics. Taylor served as the Wright brothers’ mechanic and is credited with designing and building the engine for their first successful aircraft.
Welke has held his aircraft mechanic certification for 41 years and has more than 50 years of experience in aircraft maintenance. He is also an FAA Designated Mechanics Examiner with Inspection Authorization and a certified FAA Airframe and Power Plant Technician.
"I'm very honored to receive this nationally recognized award," Welke said. "For anyone to do something for 50 years isn't too common these days, but I tell students it goes by a lot faster than they'd think. As an FAA Designated Mechanics Examiner, I've issued certifications since 1980 and to NMU students since 1991. It's hard to fathom the hundreds of men and women who've tested and received their licenses from me and are currently out working in the field today. That's very rewarding."
Applicants for the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award must be U.S. citizens who have worked at least 50 years in an aviation maintenance career. They must be FAA-certified mechanics or repair technicians working on N-registered aircraft maintained under the federal aviation regulations for a minimum of 30 of those 50 years.
"This is the most prestigious award for mechanics the FAA offers. There have been fewer than 2,000 to receive it since its inception," said Sokol. "Mark is extremely qualified, not only for being involved in aviation through the 50 years, but for his diversified experience. I was a former instructor and understand that you learn the subject best by teaching it. He's done an admirable job."
Welke received a plaque and pin. His name will also be added to the FAA honor roll, which can be viewed online or in person in Washington, D.C.