By Jim Fursman.
Midway is usually the halfway point in a journey. For the kid next door to me, Midway was the beginning of a journey and a recent highlight too. Taylor moved with his family to Burien in 1995 when he was about five years old. From a young age, Taylor was “pushing the envelope” of excitement while displaying a disarming and mischievous smile. His adventures included skateboarding down neighborhood hills, mastering ski slopes, venturing out on Puget Sound in various floating devices, launching a Styrofoam cooler by balloon containing a GPS-equipped cell phone/camera, and last, but certainly not least, adding to the annual neighborhood 4th-of-July entertainment.
When Taylor was 8, his family vacationed in San Diego, CA. One of the attractions they visited was the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum. The USS Midway is named after an island in the Pacific Ocean northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. It was the site of a pivotal battle during World War II. Construction of the Midway began in 1943 and was completed with its commissioning in September 1945. Midway was assigned to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets during its service life. Midway was the forward-based aircraft carrier in the Pacific, homeported in Japan from 1973 until 1991. The Midway was decommissioned in 1992 and later opened to the public in San Diego, California, as a museum.
While touring the ship and aircraft displayed on Midway’s flight deck, young Taylor announced to his parents that he would be flying Navy jets from a ship like that someday. So began Taylor’s aviation journey.
Taylor attended school in the Highline School District, including Sylvester Middle School and Raisbeck Aviation High School, graduating in 2010. Taylor completed ground school and flight instruction for his Private Pilot’s License during high school. As a former Navy and Commercial pilot, I’ve had many conversations with Taylor about the thrill and challenges of flying, especially those in Naval Aviation.
Taylor applied for the Naval Reserve Officer Training program (NROTC). After completing a competitive selection process, Taylor was awarded an NROTC scholarship. He attended Washington State University, majoring in Business and Information Systems academic classes, combined with the WSU/University of Idaho NROTC unit for professional military courses.
Upon graduation from WSU in 2014, Taylor was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy and reported to pilot training. During an extensive training syllabus that lasted over two years, Taylor flew the T-6 Texan II in Primary, a dual-seat single-engine turboprop aircraft equipped with ejection seats and a Head Up Display (HUD); followed by Intermediate and Advanced training in the T-45 Goshawk, a dual-seat single-engine jet aircraft also equipped with ejection seats and a HUD. The Advanced Training Program culminated with 14 daytime carrier landings in the T-45. After earning the coveted “Wings of Gold” designating a Naval Aviator, Taylor was assigned to fly the F-18 Super Hornet. During the transition to the Hornet, Taylor was introduced to real-world air combat maneuvers (ACM) and air-to-ground weapons delivery. Also included were air-to-air refueling and night carrier landings.
Since completing the F-18 transition, Taylor has qualified as a Landing Signal Officer (LSO) and most recently completed the challenging 4- phase division lead program.
His connection to the USS Midway came full circle for Taylor on May 4th of this year. As part of the San Diego activities for the upcoming Top Gun Maverick premiere, 4 F-18 Hornets from VFA-154, Black Knights, conducted a diamond formation flyby in full view of the cast and members of the public on the USS Midway flight deck. Taylor was flying the number 4 slot position.
Keeping up with the outdoor activities of earlier years, Taylor finds time for skiing, hiking, and camping. He still has that wonderful and mischievous smile! A Bright Gem for Burien.
Below is a video that Taylor (callsign: Gary the Snail) took a large part in producing