Frank Todd Taylor, 87, safety official

August 29, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Frank Todd Taylor, former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, died of renal failure Aug. 20 at Carroll Hospital Center. He was 87.

A lifelong resident of Ellicott City, he was a 1938 graduate of St. James School in Hagerstown. He attended Duke University until he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941.

Mr. Taylor attained the rank of staff sergeant and was assigned as a flight engineer and navigator aboard bombers while stationed in the Aleutian Islands.

After World War II, he earned his pilot's license and went to work for J.P. Riddle Co. , a government aeronautic contracting company, flying mail between Miami and Brazil.

In 1948, Mr. Taylor became an aviation accident investigator for the Civil Aeronautics Board. He later became director of aviation safety. When the agency became the National Transportation Safety Board in 1970, he was its first director. He retired in 1983.

"In his 33 years as an aviation safety investigator, he traveled worldwide investigating the cause of commercial airline accidents and made recommendations to the FAA and Congress ... to avoid the repetition of these kinds of disasters," said a son, F. Todd Taylor, deputy state's attorney for Howard County.

"In 1962, he investigated an air crash in Ellicott City ... after a United Airlines Viscount jet hit a flock of whistling swans," the son said. The crash of Flight 297 from Newark, N.J., to Washington killed all 17 people aboard.

Mr. Taylor had been active with Arc of Howard County and had served on the board of Glenelg Country School.

His wife of 52 years, the former Mattie Hanson, died in 2000.

He was a third-generation communicant and former vestryman at St. John Episcopal Church, 9120 Frederick Road in Ellicott City, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

Also surviving are another son, Christopher L. Taylor of Santa Monica, Calif.; a daughter, Elizabeth T. Friedemann of Ellicott City; and six grandchildren. Another son, Edward D. "Ned" Taylor, died in 1991.

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