Don P Taylor, October 2010
First amateur built aircraft around the World (1976) in a T18, Spirit of 76, N455DT
Photo by Wilfred Taylor
Don Taylor Obituary
Lt Colonel Donald P Taylor USAF Ret, was born in AZ and passed away 2 Dec 2015 in Las Cruces NM, age 97+ years. Preceded in death by his mother Fay, father Wilford, sisters Dorothy and Mary and his wife of 59 years, Lois.
He leaves behind his eldest daughter Susan-Fay, son Wil and his wife Bea and Youngest daughter Dorothy and their children and Grandchildren. Raised in CA in the '20s and '30s he witnessed the rise of aviation and the world turning from depression to the turmoil of WWII. Leaving for AAF flight training he left behind his first wife and daughter to become a fighter pilot flying-fighting P-40s in the CBI. He returned home and began training in P-51s for the invasion of Japan. Instead of an invasion, he was sent to Europe and the German occupation. He transitioned with the AAF to the USAF.
He met the love-of-his-life, Lois, in central CA and they married in Feb 1950. As a young family we had military travels/adventures/trials within CA, AK, GA, Great Britain and TX… where He retired from military service in 1962. We returned to Costa Mesa CA where Dad was a full time flight instructor, husband and father through the '60s. With the grace of Lois (Mom), and the guidance of John Thorp, he started building a small homemade aircraft in …1967…a Thorp T-18 N455DT… with the dream of flying it around the world and setting world records; which he did from the early '70s thru the early '80s.
At the end of the '60s we moved to Hemet CA onto a remote property with a private airfield. His aircraft is now hanging in the EAA museum Oshkosh WI for all to see. Over the years Mom and Dad accumulated a host of likeminded friends.
With us Kids gone, he and mom struggled with the ranch, eventually down-sizing and moving three more times: CA to AZ, within AZ and then to their final home in Las Cruces NM next to their daughter Dorothy who became protector, care-giver and confidant. In 2009 we said goodbye to Mom and he soldiered-on supported by his daughter's love and a solid lifetime of planning. In the last few months, life had gotten hard-to-bare due to a failing body which robs the mind while he slowly became one of the ‘last-man-standing' of his era. Simply stated, Dad was a pilot's-pilot, adventurist and tough-love man: a product of the people-places-times he lived through.
Dad believed in God and afterlife and a favorite poem… Pilot Bails Out, by Don Blanding… says it all in the closing refrain: 'The hand is flesh…and flesh is frail; the throbbing motored heart might fail; the plane might falter down the sky; the anguished human brain might die. But this we know… we dare not doubt… with one triumphant deathless shout, the valiant Pilot-Soul BAILS OUT!'