National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Meet the Rocket City Rednecks

Published

TRAVIS TAYLOR aka "The Ringleader"

Alabama born and bred, Travis has worked with the Department of Defense and NASA for the past 25 years, but his oddest job was working in a chicken house. He has above Top Secret clearance with the U.S. government, holds five degrees—in optical science and engineering, physics, aerospace engineering, astronomy and electrical engineering—and is currently completing a second Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. He built his first rocket at age 6 and has been a space geek ever since. He is currently working on several advanced propulsion concepts, very large space telescopes, space-based beamed energy systems, high-energy lasers, and next-generation space launch concepts. Taylor has written more than 25 technical papers, 14 science fiction novels and two textbooks, and has appeared in multiple television documentaries, including NGC’s recently highly-rated special When Aliens Attack.

ROG JONES aka "The Sidekick"

Travis met Rog in the Talented and Gifted program in elementary school, and they've been best friends ever since. Rog has a genius IQ but decided not to pursue an academic career. His skill set includes metal working, welding, woodworking, creative mischief, fishing, and drinking beer. Rog lives with his wife and kids in a double-wide trailer along the shores of a small pond that he likes to call "Lake Flaccid."

CHARLES TAYLOR aka "Daddy"

Travis’ father was one of NASA’s original machinists, working directly with Wernher Von Braun to build America’s first satellites (some of which are still flying). After graduating high school with honors, he went to technical school, becoming a machinist, then a toolmaker, then a model maker, and then a tool and die maker. Early in his career, he was selected to build a top-secret satellite, and he’s been inventing ever since. After NASA he moved into the automotive industry, where he designed tools that are used at General Motors repair shops and dealerships across the country. Now retired, Charles spends his days fishing and hunting … that is, when he’s not filming for the series.

MICHAEL TAYLOR aka "The Kid"

Travis’ nephew Michael is a student at the local community college in Huntsville, Ala., where he’s studying welding and machining, like his granddaddy. A born tinkerer, at only 16 years old, he motorized a shopping cart and brought it to a local auto show. His physics teacher was there and as luck would have it said, “This cart is going to make you famous someday.” Michael owns an outdoor services business that specializes in tree removal, stump grinding, and landscaping. He also has a goat farm.

PETE ERBACH aka "Pistol Pete"

Travis' brother-in-law is an optical scientist with a Ph.D. in physics, and an expert on optical sensor and seeker technologies. Pete helps the government solve classified projects for the Department of Defense when he's not collecting guns—he owned 27 firearms at last count. He's also a black belt in Aikido. Pete met Travis in college and is now "kin"—Pete is married to Travis’s wife's sister.

10 comments
Sharon Cline
Sharon Cline

I love RCR! When I was growing up we had the space program to trigger our imaginations and inspire us to learn. Kids today are not as lucky, but they do have you guys. Thanks for showing my students it's ok and fun to be smart, to do your best, and to be from the south!

Tama Nunnelley
Tama Nunnelley

Thanks for showing that rednecks and Alabamians can be incredibly intelligent...and for inspiring my daughter's love of science and engineering!

Lorelei Mercer
Lorelei Mercer

With everything thats going on with tornados are you guys ever gonna post your blueprints to the outhouse? It does us no good to know you can build one without knowing how too! :(

Nicole Wright
Nicole Wright

Rog,

 I just watched the episode where your pet Skinny Pig is hanging out with you.  I have a female Skinny named Darla.  They are the coolest.  :)

Sunny M.
Sunny M.

Can we submit ideas for you guys to play it out so that we can see how our ideas come to life....great for school kids !!!

Sunny M.
Sunny M.

Great show and an excellent learning experience !!! Every show is a hit !!!

James Farnsworth
James Farnsworth

Love the show team, I can't wait to see what you all come up with next. 

Gerald Roberts
Gerald Roberts

Love the show you guys are so great.Nothing like Alabama neighbor (Montgomery) rednecks to make you laugh. Hope you have many more years to go.You make my Thursdays. Rog is so funny and love it  when him and Rog do" road trips " Dont know how Dad and Mom put up with yall.Hope to catch you at Talladega someday i go to both races  every year. See you love ya mean it> 

Marlon Medina
Marlon Medina

The "Lightning Gun" was the funniest episode I've seen to date. And, it wasn't the guys that made it so funny; it was when Mama Taylor came home and found her microwave missing. "Charles Herbert! Where is MY microwave!?!?" 

I love this show!!