Rodney V. Taylor on Flying Planes and Philanthropy

RodTaylor1.jpg"When you're a pilot, you understand why moths fly into candles," says Rodney V. Taylor, an Indiana personal injury attorney at Christopher & Taylor in Indianapolis who flies planes. "Sunsets flying are just incredible."

"I like the ability to literally get in a plane and fly anywhere you want to fly," Taylor says. "It's just a wonderful way to see our country an air mile at a time."

For Taylor, it's also a way to give back to the community. In 1997, he helped found the Capitol City Ford Indianapolis Air Show. "I think when you can combine the wonderful talents and airplanes of the community and you can put that all together and you can raise funds for wonderful causes in our community, that's a good thing," Taylor says. "Every community worth its salt has a great and nationally known air show."

At this year's opening ceremony, he was given the Indiana Aviator of the Year award for his efforts in aviation and philanthropy in the state.

"I'm so heavily involved [with the air show]," Taylor says. "I feel like the lottery director that won the lottery. That aside, I'm very complimented and humbled by the fact that those folks elected me to that award. [The air show] is a wonderfully rewarding thing in my life."

It's not the first time he's turned a hobby into a charitable effort.  Taylor is also an avid motorcyclist. In 1994, he organized the Miracle Ride, a motorcycling event, to benefit Riley Hospital for Children. It has grown from about 100 riders at the beginning to more than 8,000 motorcyclists this year.

"I'm fond of saying that if you don't want to volunteer for that hospital, don't ever go in it or go near it," Taylor says. "Those kids are very seriously ill. ...You see all that and it doesn't take much to say, 'Gee, what can I do to come and pitch in and try to help a little bit?'"

Taylor has helped raise $5 million for the Riley Hospital for Children and other children's charities in Indiana in the past 15 years, says a press release.

"Rod is one of those people who likes to share what he has with others," says Denny Smith, a member of the air show's executive committee, in the press release. "and he would do anything for the Riley kids."

Growing up in Southern Illinois, Taylor was fascinated with motorcycles and all things mechanical. He always meant to start flying.

"I always promised myself that as soon as I got out of school and got a job, I'd start flying," Taylor says. "At the age of 49, I was with my son at a bookstore and saw a book that said 'Learning to Fly Over the Age of 50' and I went out immediately and bought an airplane with no clue whether I could fly it or not."

About 15 years later, Taylor has several pilot certificates and is certified as an aircraft mechanic. He's flown all over the country and even helped get his youngest daughter into it.

"The women in my family are pretty doggone independent," says Taylor who has four children and grandchildren. "So I would say that she comes to her own conclusions, but it probably didn't hurt that I also flew. And it probably didn't hurt that she was out at the air show and saw all those things. She's a great pilot."

Taylor says helping others through his hobbies is a wonderful thing.

"I'm at that stage in my life where I don't really need or want anything," Taylor says. "But, you know, I enjoy helping those folks who do need something. My father had an expression a long time ago that peace comes to you in life when you no longer have the wants. I'm 100 percent there and I appreciate that."

At 65 and about 40 years into his law career, Taylor says he can't imagine slowing down anytime soon.

"I'm just rusting out," Taylor says. "I still have some miles left."