SAN ANTONIO — Aircraft mechanic Charles A. Macha’s skills mainly were with his hands, his family said.
“He was a very talented person. There was not a craft he couldn’t handle,” son-in-law Phil Abell said.
Macha died on Tuesday. He was 96.
Born in Albuquerque, N.M., he moved to San Antonio with his mother after his father died when he was about 13 years old.
He attended Brackenridge High School and graduated in 1935.
While out dancing one night, Charles Macha met his future wife, Anna Marie, and “it was like love at first sight,” said daughter Janet Abell.
The two married in 1941.
The following year, Macha enlisted in the Army Air Corps and worked as an aircraft mechanic during World War II, eventually serving in the Philippines. After he came back from the war in late 1945, he and his wife started a family.
He was called back to duty during the Korean War and repaired aircraft at Kelly AFB.
Macha always loved airplanes, family said, but he wasn’t able to pilot them during his years of service because of a minor disability.
“He was red-and-green color blind, that’s why he couldn’t fly in the military … but you can in civilian life,” Janet Abell said.
After his service, Macha continued to work as an aircraft mechanic and did some piloting for Slick Airways, Dee Howard Aircraft Maintenance, and S.W. Osborn until starting a 41-year career with Nayac Aircraft Service.
While working at Nayac, he became a Federal Aviation Administration certified inspector and a certified instructor. He earned the FAA’s title of General Aviation Mechanic of the Year in 1972.
“He was honored,” Phil Abell said. “He won it for his ability to make corrections — there was a couple of aircraft that had some corrosion problems … and he found a way to modify it so it could be flown safely.”
Although Macha worked with his head and hands, he had rhythm in his feet, family said.
Macha retired when he was 87 and spent his time off building model airplanes, studying genealogy, and dancing with his wife.
In 2011, Anna Marie Macha died from cancer.
His family thought it was best for Charles Macha to keep busy, so he continued his love for dancing. He was a square-dance caller and a round-dance cuer until he was 95.
One thing about Charles Macha that stood out for others was his patience.
“He was a very blessed man,” Phil Abell said. “He had the patience of Job.”