Taylor Scott (1947-1987)
Taylor Scott joined the Royal Navy in 1964. After training he flew Sea Vixens before a tour with the US Navy,including the Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) at NAS Mirimar.
From 1974 to 1977 Taylor was an Air Weapons Instructor flying F-4 Phantoms from Ark Royal before being appointed the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier Project Liaison Officer at Dunsfold.
In 1979 he left the Royal Navy to join British Aerospace as a Sea Harrier test pilot. In 1982 Taylor Scott was instrumental in clearing the AIM-9L Sidewinder for use in the Falklands War and volunteered for active service. On temporary recall he helped form and train 809 Sqn before returning to BAe. In 1983 he was appointed Sea Harrier Project Test Pilot and in October 1987 he was appointed Deputy Chief Test Pilot at Dunsfold.
He was killed on October 22nd 1987 while test flying a Harrier Gr5 aircraft.
Andy Lawson, who as Photographer at Dunsfold worked with the Board of Enquiry had this additional view on the incident:
The canopy frame was in fact still on the aircraft, they found pieces of perspex near Taylor’s body. The Manual Separation drogue rocket had fired and dragged Taylor through the inch thick perspex, breaking his arm; then the tail fin temperature probe shredded his parachute and a brave man fell to his death – he was found with an arm in the parachute chords, he was still fighting and trying to deploy it all the way, as anyone who knew Taylor will recognise.
Accountants spoke of pilot error, the age old excuse for snags, but for those of us in the know this was clearly not the case. His widow Maggie won a five year legal battle with BAe, for Taylor’s insurance; an amount which meant everything to the family but was insignificant to BAe. His family were not even told of the memorials to him, when I wrote an article a while later mentioning these, I was contacted by Taylor’s brother Jeff, we met and I showed him the memorials, which he took their mother to see the next week.
At Taylor’s funeral the vicar commented ‘ This country owes a debt to this brave pilot ‘