Dr. Travis Shane Taylor (July 24, 1968) is an aerospace engineer, an author, and somewhat of a reality TV sensation when it comes to science. He is best known for his various stints with National Geographic and History channels, most notably for the former's Rocket City Rednecks in 2011-13. He currently takes the center stage in the latter network's unique show, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, with Brandon Fugal.
Speaking of History, he first appeared in reality TV in the channel's Sci-Fi documentary, The Universe, in 2009 and also in Life After People in 2010. He's even crossed over to the popular The Curse of Oak Island once as an astrophysicist. These are but a few places he's really shined on TV.
Born in Decatur, northern Alabama, Taylor's reputation outside TV is well-recognized as well. Converting his childhood enthusiasm in science fiction into fruition, he started working basically as a teenager, wrote a number of books in the genre, and also contributed to various online journals & publications as well. And the result is well-earned, which includes a respectable net worth.
Travis Taylor Is Strictly Loyal to the University of Alabama When It Comes to Education
As his LinkedIn profile goes to show, Travis Taylor marks his job as a scientist, engineer, and author from the year of his birth, showing just how invested he is in being these personalities. One look at Wikipedia is enough to understand the kind of impressive talent he was from a young age.
Taylor even has a top-level clearance with the US Government but isn't active on any social media platforms.
Photo Credit: Riccardo Savi, Getty Images for HISTORY
According to The War Eagle Reader, Dr. Taylor's father, Charles Taylor, was a machinist at Wyle Laboratories tied to NASA, and his older brother is Chief Master Sergeant Gregory Taylor of the Air Force Reserves.
It was at age three that he decided that he wanted to be a scientist & an astronaut. He wrote a novella about post-nuclear America as an eighth-grader. At 17, his meeting with Carl Sagan might have been a pivotal moment in his life as he felt disappointed by Sagan's answer to his question and became a staunch nationalist, so to speak, The War Eagle Reader also notes.
After the family moved to Somerville the same year, he built radio telescopes in his backyard and wrote a paper about them. The paper won the Alabama state science fair, which led the Army to offer him a job with a scholarship while still in high school. He took the offer of working on direct energy weapons systems at Redstone Arsenal and never had to look back.
From A.P. Brewer High School, he moved to Auburn University in Huntsville for his undergrad studies to graduate in Electrical Engineer 1991. He then mastered Physics from the University of Alabama in 1994, where he enrolled later for a master's in Aerospace Engineering, graduating again in 2001.
A literal definition of a rocket scientist, Taylor also holds two PhDs from the same University, Optical Science and Engineering in 1999 & Aerospace Systems Engineering in 2012. Additionally, he has an online master's degree in Astronomy from the University of Western Sydney, Australia, fitting him as an astrophysicist as well.
How Much Is Travis Taylor's Net Worth?
As of 2021, Travis Taylor is estimated to be worth $2 million. It comes from all the multiple professions he's involved in. To put it in laymen's terms, he's worked with lasers and telescopes all his life. The most prominent ones would be for the United States DoD and NASA he's serviced for years. While being on The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch might be contradictory as a scientist, an interest in science fiction does expand his capabilities on the show.
Travis Taylor was brought in to figure out scientifically what is causing all the anomalies at Skinwalker Ranch.
Photo Source: History Channel
Outside all the science stuff though, he does have a black belt in martial arts. He also is a private pilot, a CrossFitter, a marathon rider, and a certified SCUBA diver who loves to race mountain bikes. He has a plethora of non-professional experience in marathons & triathlons, as well as in being the lead singer of various hard rock bands.
Above all, however, his career as a writer has taken a bigger part of the spotlight. He's written and published 14 science fiction novels (19 as he claims on LinkedIn), two textbooks, and a number of technical papers. Starting with Warp Speed in 2004, he wrote sequels for his first book, most of which ranked high in a number of different polls. His latest publication, Saving Proxima, is set for release in August 2021.
Taylor is proud of his work on TV, which was what he decided to go with in order to "sell more books". He got his start with The Universe, on History in 2009, by a sheer turn of fate and got his chance to "be a Carl Sagan", or something to that effect.
Taylor was also called the 'Ringleader' of 'Rocket City Rednecks'.
Photo Source: National Geographic
Among the other documentaries, he featured in National Geographic’s When Aliens Attack and Rocket City Rednecks in 2011, hosted The Weather Channel’s 3 Scientists Walk Into a Bar, and has been a recurring astrophysicist in Ancient Aliens, The UnXplained, The Curse of Oak Island, and The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.
Travis Taylor's Wife Gave Him the Push to Write His First-Ever Book
It doesn't come up much, but Taylor's wife, Karen, had a lot to do with him becoming a successful writer. In 2001, he says he read what he thinks was a Star Trek book (still his favorite show though) and was left disgusted by how little sense it made in terms of science. As he threw the book down, his wife sitting next to him said, according to The War Eagle Reader, "Well then why don’t you go write one yourself then." She said that without looking up from whatever she was doing.
Taylor was over 40 when he got his last PhD.
Photo Source: Bristol Herald Courier
The spur in the moment remark was what inspired Taylor to write his first book, Warp Speed, in six months that year. But it wouldn't be until 2004 that the book would reach the shelves of its readers. Regardless, with a quest for selling more books, the pair decided being on TV would help. Not that they were searching for it, Taylor got a request from History Channel themselves after a Google search related to space warfare led them to him.
Travis Taylor and his wife now live just outside of Huntsville in north Alabama with their two children, of whom daughter Kalista Jade is the only one known about, and a number of pets. According to his LinkedIn profile, their house is in view of the Saturn V rocket at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.