I'm not sure when I first met Dick Taylor, but it was around 1980
that I began working with him seriously. About 1983, I began
working directly for Dick, a relationship that lasted several
years. After I moved on, we continued working together until we
both retired, after which we remained as good friends. As I was
very active in both the AIAA and the Museum of Flight, we saw a lot of
each other after working hours. I knew his family as well as I
Dick was an iconic figure in aviation, and it was a special honor
and privilege to work with him. Although he could be a (very)
challenging taskmaster, I learned a lot from him. When he passed
away on October 4 (2015), it was a shock despite his age (93.) He
was a guy who was always going to be there. In any event, I
immediately thought of a certain picture I had taken of him some years
earlier, and which I told him was the best ever. So I collected
my photos of Dick into a little Remembrance Album, and I'll start off
with "the picture."
I sent this to Dick and told him this was the picture I would submit for his memorial some day. It's a great picture for several reasons - first, it's a great picture of Dick. Second, it's taken in the left seat of a 737, an airplane that he was seriously involved in as Director of Engineering. And third - it's not just any 737 - it's the 737 Prototype - the Number One airplane.The 737 was near and dear to his heart, as it was to mine - and, indeed, to many other people. A success has many fathers, while a failure is an orphan. Still, I regarded the airplane as my own - especially this individual airplane - as I'm sure he and Brien Wygle and so many others do. You can read more about it on my web section here.
Dick and I were visiting the airplane at Moses Lake for its monthly maintenance check during the six years I spent restoring and maintaining it, after its retirement by NASA and in preparation for its final flight to the Museum at Boeing Field.
We flew over in Dick's Piper Aerostar - July 2002
After six years (and one day!) commuting to Moses Lake to look after that wonderful airplane, the big day arrived and we flew it for the last time to Boeing Field. (21 Sept 2003 - Story Here.)
Typical for Dick, this was not to be an occasion he would miss, so he flew his plane over to watch the historic last take-off. And -- he brought Clayton Scott with him!
(L-R) Bob Bogash (Crew Chief), Dick Taylor, Clayton Scott, Brien Wygle, Dale Ranz (PIC), and Mark Ranz (F/O.)
Brien was the Captain on the first flight of that airplane in 1967, and he and I were to be aboard for her final flight.
After the successful flight, there was a celebratory dinner at the Museum.
Here is Clayton Scott and Dick with myself and my wife Dot.
And with Brien Wygle - 737 First Flight Captain.
In 1984, I was assigned to take a 737 on a world sales tour. It was the second of three tours for which I served as Tour Director. The airplane was a 737-200 that we leased from Delta, and it was an historic airplane in its own right - being the 1000th 737 off the production line. (Sales have now passed 12,000.) The month-long trip was a grueling marathon across North America, Europe, Africa and South America. We visited 29 cities in 19 countries. Various Boeing executives joined us for different portions of the trip, but Dick stayed on for the whole enchilada. The trip proved to be a success, with many sales ensuing subsequently, including significant DC-9 defections to the 737 by SAS and KLM.
Here we are on Sal Island in the Cape Verde Islands, about to head across the South Atlantic for French Guiana on the NE coast of South America.
(L-R) Buzz Nelson - (Captain) - Dick Van Cise (Customer Relations) - Jeff Nouwens (UAL Flight Attendant) - Ron Woodard (Sales, later President of Boeing Commercial Airplanes) - Bob Bogash (Tour Director) - Andy Messer (Co-Pilot) - Chuck Kirkdoffer (Customer Relations) - Sam Rose (Mechanic) - Dick Taylor (Boeing V.P.) - Bob Rockwell (UAL Flight Attendant)
Dick Taylor was (like myself) always mindful of the pioneers and patriarchs in our chosen field of aviation. Clayton Scott, Scotty, was one of those individuals. He soloed at Pearson Field in 1927, became Bill Boeing's personal pilot for 7 years, was the first flier to cross the Gulf of Alaska, and became a Boeing Test Pilot, flying all Boeing airplanes from the 247 through the 727. After retirement, his flying activities continued unabated, including building and flying a replica of Boeing's first airplane for the company's 50th anniversary. Sitting and talking with Scotty was sitting with a figure right out of the pages of aviation history.
Like Dick, Scotty seemed to go on forever, and one day Dick figured out that his good friend was really getting up there in years. So, in typical Dick Taylor fashion, he took Scotty's legacy in the palm of his hand and made himself the keeper of the flame. With Bill Jepson, he created a Scotty history book, and an outstanding video. And, playing a bit with numbers, and perhaps fearing his friend might not make it, threw a big birthday party bash for Scotty's 100th Birthday. Well, it was actually only Scotty's 99th Birthday - but to get around that little detail, Dick called it the beginning of his 100th Year! Which it was. Technically.
Well, Scotty enjoyed the celebration, so a year later he presented Dick with a (nice) dilemma - what to do the next year? And so, Scotty got another big bash - a sort of second 100th Birthday party. This one was for real.
By this time, Scotty figured he had Dick really hooked on this birthday party business, so after another year rolled around and Scotty was still running on most cylinders, what was Dick to do?
Yup, yet another party for Scotty's 101st. This time, Dick had to figure out how to outdo the bash the year before, and the bash the year before that. And, of course, he did. Another party, this time in a hangar at Scotty's home airport in Renton, complete with balloons and shuttle buses. And - a dramatic statue of Scotty to be displayed on the Field, along with bronze historic plaques.
Dick, applauding at the podium after the unveiling, with Scotty immediately in front and to the right, looking on.
And then Dick outdid even his usual pull the rabbit out of the hat routines, when he unveiled the new name for Renton Municipal Airport - Clayton Scott Field.
Eventually, even Scotty got the call to Fly West, and when that sad day arrived, who else but Dick Taylor would be there to tie the bow on Scotty's incredible life and career.
You can read more about Scotty in my web-section starting here.
Dick was a frequent presenter at the Museum of Flight and could always be counted on to contribute.
April 2007 marked the 40th Anniversary of the First Flight of the 737 Prototype.
When this milestone seemed to be slipping past unrecognized, I organized a celebration, and - of course - Dick was a main participant.
L-R Dick Taylor, Brien Wygle, Peter Morton, Bob Bogash and two more customer pilots.
Later that year - another milestone - the 60th Anniversary of the First Flight of the B-47 - one of the greatest airplanes in the history of aviation. The direct Matriarch of all the jetliners we have flying the skies today. Dick played a key role as test pilot.
L-R Dick Taylor, Ken Holtby, Jack Wimpress, Guy Townsend
One of Dick's contributions was developing the "Toss-Bombing" technique. This involved flying into a target at high speed and low level, and then flying a half-loop with a rollout on top, while releasing a nuclear weapon. This enabled the airplane to avoid detection going in and avoid the effects of the blast while going out. A helluva maneuver in a big six engine jet airplane!
More about the B-47 in my websection here.
One of my favorite Dick Taylor talks occurred in the Museum and I can't even remember the subject. What I do remember, however, was that halfway through the pitch, he took of his suit jacket, claiming it was "hot", then loosened his tie, and tossed it aside - like a burlesque queen. Then he took off his shirt,....and then his pants! Yikes! It turns out he was wearing his business suit over his flight suit, and so gave us all a thrill - before ending it all in a great shot with his grand-daughter. Did it all with a straight face - the man should have been in vaudeville.
In February 2009, Dick was back in the William Allen Theater - this time to talk about another iconic Boeing aircraft - the B-52.
The participants - three B-52 test pilots - L-R: Guy Townsend, Brien Wygle, Dick Taylor
The three, in their younger days. This "getting old" ain't no fun.....
Dick was B-52 Program Manager at one point in his career
More info on the Museum's B-52G can be found in my websection here.
Guy Townsend (L) was a USAF Test Pilot, Lead USAF Test Pilot on the B-47 and first miltary pilot to fly that airplane. He was the Co-pilot on the first flight of the B-52. He was also the first military pilot to fly the B-50 and the Prototype of the KC-135 Tanker.
He retired from USAF as a Brigadier General and passed away in March 2011 at age 90. Bio here.
Who said being a Test Pilot was dangerous?
In March 2010, the tables were turned when Dick was the Guest of Honor at the Museum.
Friend and colleague Peter Morton had followed in Dick's footsteps (i.e. Dick with Scotty) and decided to do something special for Dick. After a lot of hard work, he got Dick honored as a Senior Statesman of Aviation by Aviation Week - and to commemorate that honor, of course - throw a party at the Museum for Dick.
I think Dick's greatest pride is.... not an airplane - but his grandkids
As part of that occasion, USAF sent a film crew and we conducted all day Video and Oral Histories of major players in the B-52 program. Afterwards, we took this group photo.
L-R Brien Wygle, Al Jones, Dick Taylor (B-52 Boeing Test Pilots); Dave Wellman (flew the very first B-52 combat mission and Museum docent); Jim Farmer (B-52 pilot who was shot down over North Viet Nam and Museum Trustee); Bob Bogash.
Finally, in October 2014, at an event celebrating the Boeing 747, was this last picture
92 years old and still with a Million Dollar Smile - Look out Ladies!
L-R Dick Taylor, Jack Wimpress, Bob Bogash, Steve Taylor (Dick's son and curently Chief Pilot - Boeing Flight Services.)
Jack - my one-time boss - was a legendary Boeing aerodynamicist and the Father of the YC-14 (See bio pg. 9 here.)
And so, there's my mini Dick Taylor scrapbook of pictures. As I find myself, like the Frank Sinatra song says, "in the Autumn of my years", I often think about my career, the things I've done, the places I've been. But, especially, about the people I've known. I've traveled so much in my career, I could never go back to all the places I've been. And, I could never meet and work with the people I've been privileged to know over my career. To not only know them, but to call them friends. True pioneers and patriarchs in my chosen field of aviation. And, indeed, world history. People who truly have been there and done that. They had The Right Stuff.
And, while others could, perhaps, retrace my journey's and re-visit those far-away places, no one will be able to visit again with those colleagues who have gone from our midst, with their knowledge and wisdom and incredible experiences. People I could actually say were .... my friends.
On Oct 31 and Nov 1, 2015, Memorial Services were held for Dick at the Bellevue Prebyterian Church and the Museum of Flight. The following remembrances were given out.
At the Museum of Flight on November 1st - would have been Dick's 94th Birthday
Part of the Taylor Family
Back Row: 2nd from Left - Mac, Steve (at podium), Priscilla, and Jane
Dick Taylor, 93, piloted, designed postwar planes at Boeing
Originally published October 15, 2015 at 12:33 pm
Dick Taylor, seen in 1945, was a spotter pilot during World War II. He later worked for Boeing. (Photo Courtesy of Taylor family)
A photo of Dick Taylor in 1952. (Photo Courtesy of Taylor family)
By Coral Garnick
Seattle Times business reporter
As a test pilot for the B-29 aerial-refueling tanker in the late 40s, Richard “Dick” Taylor became the world’s first boom operator. So it was only fitting that on Sept. 25, Mr. Taylor was at Paine Field to watch the first flight of the latest version, the KC-46.
Mr. Taylor, who died Oct. 4 at age 93 in his Capitol Hill home, made that Paine Field visit with his son Steve Taylor, who is the chief pilot of Boeing Flight Services.
Frank Shrontz, who was Boeing’s CEO while Mr. Taylor worked there, as well as a good friend, said in an interview that Mr. Taylor was an outstanding engineer and “was a great contributor to not only Boeing, but to the entire aerospace industry.”
Born in 1921 in Cincinnati, Mr. Taylor grew up in Indiana and graduated from Purdue University with a mechanical engineering degree in 1942. He was a spotter pilot in Europe during World War?II. Taking the advice of a Purdue professor, he moved to Seattle in 1946 to work for Boeing, said Priscilla Hickey, his daughter.
He joined Boeing as a flight-test engineer and quickly became one of its youngest test pilots. In addition to working on the B-29 tanker, he spent more than 2,000 hours test-flying the B-47 Stratojet — an important aircraft promising better speed and range than the straight-winged prop planes that were standard at the time. The B-47 was the first airplane built with wings swept back at an angle and with engines mounted below the wings in pods, Steve Taylor said.
“It was so far ahead of its time,” Mr. Taylor recalled in an oral history recorded by the Museum of Flight.
As Boeing’s director of engineering during development of the 737, Mr. Taylor earned the title “Father of the 737.” He also played a pivotal role in reducing the number of pilots in an airline cockpit from three to two. Mr. Taylor may be best known, however, for his work on extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS), which required convincing safety regulators to reduce the number of engines required on a plane flying over water from three or four to two. That effort also earned him the title “Father of ETOPS.”
“Today we can’t even imagine building an airplane that required three pilots or three engines, but when he was working those changes, that was really radical thinking,” Steve Taylor said.
“He fundamentally changed the way in which the industry designs airplanes and operates them,” said Peter Morton, a Boeing retiree who worked under Mr. Taylor for many years.
During his early career, Mr. Taylor moved between Seattle and Boeing’s operations in Wichita, Kan., but settled in Bellevue in the 1960s. He couldn’t have fit in better in Washington, as his three favorite things were planes, baseball and coffee, his daughter said. More recently, he walked from his Capitol Hill condo to Roy Street Coffee every day for a cup of black coffee and was a Mariners season-ticket holder.
The day Mr. Taylor died, he was headed to the Mariners’ last home game of the season, where he was going to be recognized in the team’s Salute to those who Serve. A video was shown at the game, and his daughter said Mr. Taylor “would have been so glad to know that the Mariners won their game and that he was part of a good finish to the season.”
Mr. Taylor was on the board of trustees of the Museum of Flight for 44 years and was instrumental in refocusing its mission in the 1990s to include education. Museum CEO Doug King said Mr. Taylor felt it was just as important to inspire, motivate and educate young people as to collect and preserve history.
“You tend to look at people that age as only looking back and telling stories, but he was still looking forward,” King said.
Mr. Taylor retired from Boeing in 1991, but served as a consultant for another five years, helping with certification, design, safety and extended-range operations. His industry honors include the Distinguished Service Award from the Federal Aviation Administration in 1991 and being named an Elder Statesman of Aviation by the National Aeronautics Association in 1992.
His children remember the Taylor family had at least eight different planes over the years. Family vacations growing up started on his plane, and the family flew to places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Washington, D.C.
“I grew up in the back seat of the family airplane,” Steve Taylor said. “My first ride was at just a few weeks old.” (Steve Taylor said he himself learned to fly before he even had a driver’s license.)
While Mr. Taylor was in his 90s, he still owned a seven-seater Piper Aerostar (he holds several world-speed records). And while he hadn’t flown since last December, he was preparing: At the time of his death, the plane was in San Diego getting new instruments installed.
Mr. Taylor was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years, Mary McLaury Taylor, and his daughter and son-in-law, Martha and Mike Biggs. Besides his children Steve Taylor and Priscilla Hickey, he is survived by daughter Jane Wilson and son Mac Taylor; his brother, Ray Taylor, and sister, Sarah Jane Waitt; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The family is holding a memorial service at Bellevue Presbyterian Church at 1 p.m. Oct. 31. A separate celebration is scheduled at the Museum of Flight at 5 p.m. Nov. 1. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Museum of Flight or Bellevue Presbyterian Church.
Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @coralgarnick
Copyright Seattle Times
Sabra Gertsch is a writer who was collaborating with Dick to write his Autobiography. She authored a terrific piece for the Huffington Post, which can be found here:
Obit in JDA Journal