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Lawyer-pilot named Aviator of the Year

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Attorney Rod Taylor always wanted to learn how to fly. But for much of his early life, time seemed to be the only thing that flew. He went to college, then law school, started practicing law, and before he knew it, his children were heading to college and he still hadn’t flown a plane.

Then at the age of 49, he was browsing in a bookstore and saw a book about learning to fly after age 50. He bought the book that day and an airplane the next.

Now 64, Taylor is an accomplished pilot who regularly flies himself to destinations for work. And the Capitol City Ford 2012 Indianapolis Air Show just named him Aviator of the Year.

rod-taylor-15col.jpg Motorcycle enthusiast , pilot and attorney Rod Taylor connects his favorite hobbies with fundraising efforts. (Submitted photo)

Getting off the ground

Taylor grew up in Southern Illinois, and he credits that background with inspiring his interest in flying planes.

“I’m an old farm boy, so I probably have a more-than-usual interest in mechanical things, and another interesting statistic is that older children dominate the ranks of pilots,” he said.

Taylor’s theory about birth order and propensity for flight comes from conversations he’s had with other pilots who – like himself – are the first-born child in their families.

Taylor relies on his piloting skills to get to far-away appointments. And as a busy personal injury attorney for Christopher & Taylor, and legal counsel for the Indiana, Illinois and Ohio chapters of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, he travels often.

Being able to hop in his plane and go somewhere offers “an exhilarating moment of freedom,” Taylor said.

Attorney Bob Duncan, chair of the Indianapolis Air Show and interim director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, has been a pilot for 51 years and has trained at least nine Indiana attorneys to fly.

Duncan’s family lived in New Jersey, and when he was 16, his father learned he was being transferred to Indiana for work. He offered his son a good reason to cooperate.

airshow“My dad just said, ‘You don’t raise a big stink about this move, and when we move to Indiana, you can learn how to fly,’” Duncan said.

Duncan, who handles aviation law as of counsel for Norris Choplin & Schroeder, said that what began as a hobby has turned out to be much more.

“It’s like anything else in life – you find an interest, you stay with it and it becomes part of your lifestyle,” Duncan said.

Making hobbies count

Taylor is also an avid motorcyclist, and in 1994, he found a way to enjoy that hobby and raise money for a good cause at the same time. He established the Miracle Ride, an annual motorcycle ride that benefits the Riley Children’s Foundation and Riley Hospital for Children. The success of that event and his love of flying motivated Taylor to – with the help of others – found the Indianapolis Air Show in 1997. Proceeds from that event benefit the Central Indiana Community Foundation and support the Riley foundation and hospital.

The idea for his charitable efforts came after Taylor saw the patients at Riley.

“I think what initiated it was a tour at Riley Hospital, and I defy anybody to go on a tour at Riley and not ask what you can do to help out there,” he said.

Taylor is humbled by the number of volunteers who sacrifice their time to orchestrate the events – the air show alone requires the assistance of about 500 to 600 volunteers. Many of the volunteers who help with the air show have some connection to Riley. Duncan’s own daughter and two grandchildren have been patients at the hospital, and his daughter now works there.

duncan-bob-mug.jpg Duncan

Kevin O’Keefe, president and CEO of Riley Children’s Foundation, shares Taylor’s respect for the people who plan and work year-round to make the charitable events happen.

“One of the lasting impressions we have of these two events is that these are all volunteers who rally around Riley and the kids. You have thousands of people – some of whom give up vacation time to attend meetings or work these events – and they’re all doing it for the sake of these kids, to help us take care of the sickest of the sick kids in the state,” he said.

O’Keefe said Taylor’s personality plays a big part in getting people to volunteer.

“Rod can talk to anybody and be comfortable with them, and I think the person on the other side of the table is comfortable with Rod. He’s very passionate about his commitment to Riley, and he’s just willing to do whatever it takes for the purpose of the mission,” O’Keefe said.

The air show and Miracle Ride combined have raised more than $5 million for Riley.

Recognition

Taylor said that any air show that features an armed forces jet team is considered to bear a mark of distinction, so he’s proud of the fact that the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight squadron has twice named the Indianapolis show the best in the country. And as a U.S. Army veteran, he enjoys that the air show attracts so many members of the military.

The Indianapolis Air Show executive committee receives nominations for Aviator of the Year and picks the honoree.

“Rod was nominated this year, and since he’s been an integral part of the air show and was essentially the founder of it, we thought it was appropriate to honor him in this manner,” Duncan said.

Past winners include Dr. Worthe Holt, who began his military career as a flight surgeon and is currently assistant adjutant general for the Minnesota National Guard, and Margaret Ray Ringenberg, a pilot who flew bombers, fighters and transports to troops overseas during World War II. Taylor said he is honored to be among such an elite group of aviators.

“I keep thinking of myself as a newbie, although in the aviation world, going on 14, 15, 16 years, I suppose sometime I need to quit saying that,” Taylor said.•

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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