Big blowups in 'Rocket City'


They may like a cold one, talk like Larry the Cable Guy and have a lot of buck trophies up on the wall, but the "Rocket City Rednecks" are steely-eyed missile men.

Airing Wednesdays on National Geographic Channel, the series profiles five self-proclaimed "rednecks" who live in the Huntsville, Ala., area, home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

They are Travis Taylor, a rocket scientist and science-fiction writer; Rog Jones, Travis' high-school buddy; Pete Erbach, optical scientist and gun collector; Charles "Daddy" Taylor, Travis' father, a retired NASA machinist; and Michael Taylor, machinist and part-time goat farmer.

Aged 22 to 66, the men conduct and film scientific experiments at Charles' country home. These include bombproofing a truck with empty beer cans, using moonshine to fuel rockets and trying to contact alien life with an old satellite dish.

Sometimes things go awry, such as their effort to build a submarine that sank in a quarry with Travis and Michael aboard. Explains Travis, "(We) did get exposed to some toxic gas, but we got out of that."Of course, they have day jobs, at least two of them dedicated to protecting America's armed forces.

Says Travis, "I work for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, working on giant laser systems to create an umbrella that will protect our soldiers from rockets, artillery and mortars, because 85 percent of the casualties come from rockets, artillery and mortars."

Says Erbach, "I design/develop imaging systems essentially for the same sorts of purposes. Our goals are to keep soldiers safe -- if you were to give them the next edge on the battlefield that will ultimately save their lives -- and basically, you know, help get rid of the bad guys."

And there's a personal connection.

Says Travis, "Michael's daddy is my own personal hero. He's my big brother. He's been to Iraq and Afghanistan three different times already, and he's actually been deployed a couple of times in other engagement zones. So I want to make sure he's going to have every advantage to come home safe."

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad