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‘DC-8 Generation’ Mechanic wins Aviation Industry Award

Being a line maintenance mechanic for nearly 56 years has helped Robert “Bob” Taylor see the world. It has also enabled him to receive the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, one of the most prestigious awards presented to an aviation employee by the FAA.

The FAA presented Taylor with the award March 28, at the recommendation of his management team in the Las Vegas and Ontario, Calif., gateways.

Bob TaylorTaylor is one of two mechanics who works at the Las Vegas gateway. He is in his second year at the gateway, which is in its second year with zero delays.

Taylor began his aviation career unlike most mechanics. Originally, Taylor’s dream was to be a plumber in his small Massachusetts town, but he found no room to grow in that career path. Due to his aptitude for mechanical things, it was suggested that he pursue aircraft maintenance, which is what he did when he graduated from high school and enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1956.

It was in the Air Force that Taylor learned a lot about aviation, working on B-66 Bombers, F-111 fighter jets, B-57s and the T-33. It was also the Air Force that enabled Taylor to see the world. During his time with the military, he lived in both Vietnam and Japan.

“I served my country during the Vietnam war, working on military aircraft. There were more than a few times when we had to take cover as our workstation fell under attack,” Taylor said. “We’d hear the alarm, head to a safe place and when it was over, get back to work.”

Taylor has worked with various aviation companies throughout the Middle East, living both in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where he worked for Iran Aircraft Industries and Saudi Arabian Airlines. In 1980, he returned to the U.S. with his wife, Shokat, whom he met while working in Iran. 

Back in the states, he worked on F-16 aircraft for General Dynamics and in 1981 he worked on helicopters at Augusta International.

In 1987, Taylor landed a job at Orion Aircraft Industries, a vendor that maintained aircraft for UPS.

A year later, UPS started hiring its own mechanics to take care of line maintenance work and offered Taylor a job in Ontario, Calif., where he worked for 21 years before transferring to the Las Vegas gateway.

Bob Taylor“It was difficult at first,” he said. “UPS was just starting its airline and getting things going, but we pulled together and made it work.”

Throughout the years, Taylor has seen changes in procedures and personnel but the goals have remained constant — maintain the aircraft and get the packages out on time, he said.

“Ultimately, we have to get packages to our customers and that’s why our planes have to be on time. I do everything in my power to make sure that happens,” he said. “If I have to do a little extra to make sure that happens, I will.”

Taylor is known throughout the UPS system by mechanics and crewmembers alike. He has volunteered for more than a few temporary duty assignments — assignments mechanics can take at other gateways to help if another AMT is sick, hurt or on vacation.

Taylor, who wears a UPS “DC-8 generation” hat, said he is recognized throughout UPS because of the hat he received years ago during a training session he attended in Louisville.

“Everyone knows my hat,” he said. “It’s very popular. I’ve had one crewmember offer me as much as $75 for this old hat.”

But for more than his hat, his gateway, his management team and the FAA recognize him for his dedication to both UPS and the aviation industry.

“Bob is committed to making every departure a safe and on-time event,” Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Manager David Bonner said. “Bob Taylor has made a great impression on all who know him and have had the opportunity to work with him.”

According to Taylor, winning the Charles Taylor award is very special.

“It’s a very good feeling to know that I’ve achieved something most people can’t. There’s been 1,527 of these awards given out and I’ve got one of them.”

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