EAA’s Attic — Don Taylor’s Jacket

This piece originally ran in the August 2022 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.

Don Taylor served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and the postwar U.S. Air Force. In the late 1960s, he built a customized Thorp T-18 (N455D) for the specific purpose of completing the first round-the-world flight in a homebuilt aircraft. Nicknamed Victoria 76 (borrowing the name of one of Ferdinand Magellan’s ships), the aircraft features a wet wing and second fuel tank in the right-hand seat, giving the aircraft enough fuel to fly for more than 2,000 miles. This also meant that Taylor flew the aircraft solo. Taylor’s first attempt was in September 1973, but bad weather between Japan and the Aleutian Islands forced him to turn around. On the second attempt, Taylor and Victoria 76 departed Oshkosh on August 1, 1976, and returned 61 days later, completing the first circumnavigation flight by a homebuilt aircraft. Taylor later took Victoria 76 to the North Pole in 1983 before donating the airplane to EAA that same year. This jacket did not come into the EAA collection until 2014, but it’s very likely Taylor wore it during the 1976 flight. Patches for EAA Chapter 92 are period correct for the mid-1970s, and a patch for EAA Chapter 555 of Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Taylor passed away in 2015, indicates he had the jacket for much of his time flying Victoria 76.

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