Travis Taylor and his best friend, Rog Jones, may seem like your average Huntsville, Alabama, residents who like to spend their weekends hanging out with their families and enjoying the outdoors.
But an average weekend for Taylor and Jones can actually involve everything from building a giant rocket to blowing up an outhouse and hooking up a rocket engine on the back of a pickup truck.
As the stars of National Geographic Channel’s series Rocket City Rednecks, Taylor, a research scientist with the Department of Defense and NASA, and Jones spend their time building and blowing up things to solve real-world problems.
The show returns for season two on Nov. 29 better than ever, according to Taylor.
“We pick bigger, bolder, more ambitious problems to solve,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We got to blow more things up, for sure. That was the most exciting part.”
While some of their season-two experiments are just about blowing stuff up, others could help solve real-world problems.
This season, Taylor and Jones build a full-body armor suit that could protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices.
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“One of the big reasons they don’t wear them on their legs is that they say it slows them down,” says Taylor, who proved that his own suit could be comfortable enough for combat by running in a Marine Corp marathon in Washington, D.C. He completed the run in about 6 hours and 15 minutes.
“Right now, they’re surviving at great rates, better than any time before because of the great body armor, but their losing their legs more so than any other time in history because of the improvised explosives,” Taylor explains. “Hopefully, it was spark some folks to say, ‘Hey, we ought to be doing that.’”
Additionally, Jones says a project that was very special to him this season was working with the Wounded Warrior organization. They built a vehicle for a wounded vet that allowed him to explore the woods and enjoy life as an outdoorsman.
Taylor and Jones, along with friends and Taylor’s father, spend each episode working through the science and mechanics needed to reach their experimental goals. There are often speedbumps in the road, but the duo say that their friendship can handle anything.
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“We’ve been through too much together. I’ve known him since he was in the fifth grade,” says Taylor. “He can’t say nothing to me that hurts my feelings, and I can’t say nothing to him that hurts his feelings.”
Taylor has also benefited from working with his father, Charles "Daddy" Taylor, who was a machinist on the Apollo space program.
“My older brother, he was more of an outdoorsman, a hunter, a fisherman like my dad is. And they spent a lot more time growing up together,” Taylor says. “And my dad said, he spent the early part of his life with his older boy, and now he’s getting to spend the last part of his life with his younger boy.”
He adds: “I think it’s great because I get to see him all the time. And the guy is a wealth of knowledge of how to build things. And I learn something from him every day.”
Taylor and Jones admit that their lives have changed since the show premiered in September 2011. They’re often recognized when they go to dinner in their hometown.
They add that many parents come up to them, telling them that their kids love the show.
“I think kids, they’re hungry for stuff like this,” says Jones. “They need to see that they don’t have to play videogames all day.”
Season two of Rocket City Rednecks premieres on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.
Watch a sneak peek of season two below.
Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford