A P-40 Warhawk is on display at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot. It’s the type of plane flown by North Dakota native, Oswin Elker, who served with distinction in WWII with the Flying Tigers. He was shot down twice, and escaped both times through enemy territory. A hanger at the museum is named for Oswin.
Oswin didn’t fly the Warhawk at the museum, but the plane is part of the interesting history of Granger Taylor, who was born in British Columbia on this date in 1948. He was very intelligent, but was shy and introverted, spending many hours alone. He quit school after the eighth grade and went to work for a mechanic. Taylor, as it turned out, was a mechanical genius, who could fix almost anything.
At 14, Taylor built a car. Next, he refurbished a derelict bulldozer. He also found a locomotive in the woods that was a total wreck. It had been abandoned with the boiler rusted through and trees growing through the wheels and undercarriage. Taylor disassembled it, and after 3 years had it working in near pristine condition. He sold it to the Canadian Government for museum display.
Taylor’s crowning achievement was restoring the World War II P-40 Warhawk, starting with just a few pieces he found in a junk yard. He sold it to a collector, and it eventually found its way to Minot.
Taylor then turned to space and space travel. He read every book he could about the cosmos and extraterrestrials. He built a large flying saucer made out of 2 discarded satellite dishes. The craft was never meant to fly, but he used it as a refuge, spending many hours in it reading and meditating.
He told friends that he had been communicating telepathically with aliens and that they had invited him to take a trip on their spaceship. On November 29, 1980, Taylor drove off and was never seen again. He left a note to his parents saying he was leaving for a 42-month tour of the solar system. His parents waited, but their son never returned.
In 1986, Taylor’s truck was found on a mountain in British Columbia, blown to smithereens. Several bone fragments were found, but it could not be determined if they were Taylors. The mystery still baffles today.
Dakota Datebook by written by Scott Nelson
CBC Documentary, “Starman: The Granger Taylor Story”
Interview with Glen Blackaby, Director, Dakota Territory Air Museum