LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Dr. Travis Taylor is well known to viewers of the History Channel television programs Ancient Aliens and The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. But he doesn’t merely play a scientist on TV.
Taylor’s scientific credentials are impressive, which helps explain why he was chosen by the Pentagon to act as chief scientist for the UAP Task Force, formally created by Congress to fully investigate military encounters with advanced, unknown aircraft and objects.
Taylor boasts a doctorate in aerospace systems engineering, a doctorate in optical science and engineering, a master’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in astronomy.
With a 20-year career supporting NASA, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and other customers, Taylor is an accomplished writer. He has written two textbooks, over 15 papers and 21 science fiction novels. He has worked on classified programs for the Department of Defense for more than 20 years and has earned the trust of the U.S. Army and NASA.
He recently joined Radiance Technologies as a principal research scientist.
In this portion of our exclusive interview, Travis explains how he was chosen for the position with the UAP Task Force, how he navigated that with his television work, and the challenge of tackling the UFO/UAP mystery.
George Knapp: The world knows you from television, but you’ve had security clearances — high level, for different agencies — for a long time.
Dr. Travis Taylor: I started working for the army, gosh, I was 17, actually. And I’ve been a scientist … or an engineer for the army ever since. There’s about seven years in my life where I went into the private sector and worked for the intelligence community as a contractor, then I went back into civil service, and I’ve been doing that my whole life. I’ve had a security clearance for decades.”
Knapp: Did you need permission to be the scientist on TV?
Taylor: Before I was on TV — I also write science fiction novels — and I remember my first science fiction novel, they made me give it to security and they went through it to make sure there wasn’t anything that was too close to what I was doing at work or that might be sensitive in nature. And after about my third or fourth novel, it was too much work for them, so they quit worrying about it.”
Knapp: Did you have to tell them what you would be doing on TV? Did they set parameters?
Taylor: I would always tell them, you know, I’m doing this … I’m going to say things, and depending on which legal person they had me talk to each time, what I was told I could and couldn’t say was different every time. They didn’t really have a good standard.” They would tell him whether he was speaking as a private citizen, or if he was speaking for one of the agencies he worked with.
Knapp: You were an “arch-skeptic” when you first came to Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. Correct?
Taylor: My actual notion was that there were some bad actors doing some things. Maybe it was Russian, maybe it was Chinese, maybe it was just some kids with some new toys. Or maybe even the Skinwalker people were doing something to sell books and TV shows.”
Knapp: Were you aware about AAWSAP and that program when you started working on the ranch?
Taylor: When I started working on the ranch, I knew there were programs but I didn’t know exactly who was doing it and what, and I had been trying to reach out to them for awhile and figure it out. And I actually wrote a book on how you would defend the planet if there was an alien invasion, and that there should be an actual organization preparing and studying possibilities. I detailed out what that organization would be like using my defense industry knowledge and how those things work. I found out later that the organizations that were created were almost just like the chapter in my book describes it. Jay Stratton actually has a copy of that book and has used it.
Knapp: Did you have any idea that you would actually work with the program you were describing?
Taylor: When I wrote the book, I always said in public that this is my resume. Anybody out there that’s doing this work, I’d be happy to help.
Knapp: Can you talk to me about the day that somebody came and asked … and you took them up on that offer?
Taylor: It was really interesting. One of the things that happened at Skinwalker Ranch in early ’19, I was concerned that they might have had defense — national security issues involved with it. So I asked for a meeting with some folks at the Pentagon, then I reached out through mutual colleagues and I went and briefed them on some of the information. At the time, they checked my clearances and all, and we were talking in a room where we could talk national security things. It was at that point that I was invited to join the team.
Jay Stratton, the director of the UAP Task Force, asked if he would be interested in being chief scientist.
Knapp: Did you ever have trouble wearing two hats at the same time?
Taylor: I’m recently retired from the government, and I’m working in a private company now, but while I was doing it, I had to be real careful not to violate either NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) — the NDAs with Brandon Fugal and the History Channel at Skinwalker Ranch, and the NDAs with the government. But what I did, it was mutually beneficial to both parties because I understood bigger-picture stuff from being with the government, and then I also got to be in the laboratory hands-on with Skinwalker Ranch. And both of them were very important.