September 29, 2011

Meet the Rocket City Rednecks

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."


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.


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.

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