CASPER, Wyo.– For nearly half a century, Marvin Robinson worked on airplanes at Casper-Natrona County International Airport, demonstrating in that time an aptitude for mechanics that put him in rarefied company . On Saturday, he was recognized for his excellence with the prestigious Charles Taylor Award, the highest honor the Federal Aviation Administration can bestow on an aircraft mechanic.
Originally from Riverton, Robinson wasn’t always sure what he wanted to do after graduating from high school. But one fateful day, he saw a list of aircraft mechanics training in a course catalog at Spokane Community College, and the rest was history.
“It was just on a whim,” Robinson said. “I was probably supposed to be an architect; I had a cousin who had become an architect and was very successful, but being an aircraft mechanic caught my eye.
After completing his training and earning his aircraft mechanic certification, Robinson quickly learned that he not only loved working on airplanes, but had a knack for it. There was no part of an airplane that Robinson couldn’t fix, although he always thought that working on engines was his specialty.
“Marvin did a lot of work on my planes early on, and one thing that’s amazing about Marvin is that I don’t think he’s just a master mechanic; I think he’s a master magician,” longtime driver Dallas Chopping said of Robinson. “He had plenty of time to chat and always seemed very relaxed, but then you would turn around and just like that the job was done. Anyone could panic and try to get things done, but not Marvin. Just snap your fingers and the job is done.
“Marvin is the picture of skill and reliability,” added driver John Campbell.
As an aircraft mechanic, Robinson held jobs across the country, including his first job in California.
However, shortly after beginning his career as an aircraft mechanic, Robinson was drafted into the United States Air Force in the midst of the Vietnam War. This brought Robinson to Hawaii, where he used his aircraft acumen to help the military.
After serving in the Air Force for four years, he returned to his job in California where he worked for a time before deciding he wanted to return home to Wyoming. He briefly returned to his hometown, working with Riverton Aviation, before taking employment with Casper Air Service and later True Drilling Company.
Since joining Casper Air Service, Robinson has called Casper-Natrona County International Airport home, where he continues to work to this day.
“We’re so proud of him,” said Hank True of True Drilling.
Through it all, Robinson impressed his peers with his intimate knowledge of all manner of aircraft.
“He’s one of the brightest mechanics you’ll ever meet,” said FAA Operations Inspector Chris Lang. “He’s also a pilot himself, so he knows his way around an aircraft better than anyone and really knows more than he’s letting on.”
Because of his level of excellence for more than 50 years, Lang said he was more than deserving of the honor of the Charles Taylor Award.
“It’s a very prestigious recognition,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many we give out each year, but it’s not a lot at all.”
On Saturday, more than 200 people showed up at the local airport to celebrate Robinson’s achievement with him and his family.
“It’s really nice,” Robinson said with a smile. “I’m not really in the spotlight, so it’s a bit overwhelming. But it means a lot to me and I’m so grateful to everyone who came out.