Local aviation mechanic awarded for service
Oct. 26, 2011 |
Ken Wilson was presented with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award on Tuesday at the Newark-Heath Airport. Wilson has been repairing planes for more than 50 years and now works part-time at the airport. / Jason Lenhart/The Advocate
HEATH — Costs for airplane repair and fuel have increased tenfold since Ken Wilson began as an aviation mechanic in 1960.
Planes’ dashboards have evolved from assorted switches and gadgetry to single glass panels, and the aluminum models gradually are being replaced by lightweight and more durable composite material.
Wilson has been there to see it all, inspecting planes to ensure Federal Aviation Administration compliance and balancing up to 60 hours per week in various central Ohio hangars with farming duties at home.
“I never thought I’d be in aviation,” said the 70-year-old Somerset resident, who on Tuesday received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award for his 50 years as an aviation mechanic.
But after he joined the United States Air Force as a fighter mechanic in 1960, the field of general aviation caught his interest and turned into a longtime career.
He now spends at least 30 hours per week at the Newark-Heath Airport, where he works on a contract basis for Aviation Works.
Wilson probably could have made more money working for an airline, he said, but he chose general aviation — defined as all flights except scheduled airline and military — so he could have the freedom to creatively solve any problems that might come up and troubleshoot on his own.
“In general aviation, every day is different,” Wilson said. “Not only do you have to do it, you have to do it right. You have to do it by regulation.”
FAA representatives stopped by the Newark-Heath Airport on Tuesday to present Wilson with the award, named after the Wright brothers’ mechanic.
“Ken was cited as a person that was always willing to help people,” said Tim Sokol, FAA Safety Team program manager.
Wilson was greeted at the surprise presentation by his wife, Patricia; daughter, Misty Bojko; and three grandchildren, in addition to a number of friends through the years.
One of them, Marc Vance, retired after a 30-year teaching career to pursue aviation mechanics. He met Wilson in the 1970s at the Fairfield County Airport when Wilson would work on his planes and was intrigued by Wilson’s dedication to the field.
“I wonder how many people are mechanics because of Ken Wilson,” Vance said. “I am.”
Wilson’s wife, too, expressed pride in her husband’s career.
Even during days of frustration when farm duties would be neglected because of necessary work at the hangar, Patricia said, “He is probably the most conscientious guy I know about his job. And I couldn’t be prouder.”
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