Biography of James L. Taylor
James L. (Jim) Taylor was born in 1918 and grew up on a farm northwest of Alexander. After graduating from Alexander High School, he attended Minot State Teachers College for approximately three years. While there he received his initial flight training through the Civilian Pilot Training program.
Jim passed his flight physical in January, 1941 and formally enlisted in April, 1941. On July 19, 1941 he was appointed as an Aviation Cadet in the United States Naval Reserve. His wartime service took him to several naval air stations in the United States where he served as a flight instructor and was involved in training operations with personnel who participated in the Pacific Theater in World War II. He flew several military aircraft including the TBF Avenger and the PBY seaplane.
In August, 1944, he was assigned to the USS Bunker Hill, an Essex class aircraft carrier which served as the flagship for Admiral Marc Mitscher. Jim was the flight deck officer during his time on the Bunker Hill. In May, 1945, the Bunker Hill was attacked by two kamikaze aircraft and was nearly sunk.
After the war ended Jim was assigned to Patuxent River Maryland where he flew air transport missions in the United States. He also participated in the Berlin Airlift and spent time in Germany as a naval liaison officer in that operation. He flew DC-4 and DC-3 aircraft in these missions.
Jim separated from the Naval Reserve in October, 1949 and returned to North Dakota. He operated a crop spraying operation from the family farm for a time, using a military bi-plane aircraft. He graduated from the University of North Dakota Law School and returned to McKenzie County to establish a law practice and continue farming and flying. Jim owned and flew several aircraft during his civilian life, including a Cessna 180, Piper Aztec and Navajo, and an Air Tractor spray plane. He was known to help ranchers find lost livestock, to fly oilfield equipment to Watford City and to fly football fans to Watford City Wolves football games. In 1985, Jim and his son, Kent, started an aerial spraying business which eventually became Taylor Ag Services, Inc. Kent sold the business in 2015.
Jim accumulated over 8,000 flying hours while in the Naval Reserve, and he tallied over 10,000 total hours over his 63 years of flying.
Jim was a member of the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, and was a longtime member of the Watford City Rotary Club.
He was an attorney and a farmer but his true passion was flying airplanes.