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I am the younger brother of Ron Swingler who posted an earlier entry. I
too grew up down the alley from Travis during the 80’s. Of course, he
was much older than I, but he was still a big part of my childhood. He
was the exciting guy who lived down the street. The kind of guy you
read about in stories. He wasn’t like everyone else and that is why he
was so exciting. My friend Eric and I were always tinkering with things
and he was the tinkerer king. Who else had an infrared sensor in his
yard to detect when people entered the property? Who else had a robot
hand out candy on Halloween? Who else had a double story workshop in
their backyard that was half the size of their house filled with
Of all the memories I have, one stands out the most. It was when Travis
gave my friend Eric and I a tour of his workshop. He showed us all
sorts of electronic gadgets. He showed us a hang glider. He showed us
an entry to a bomb shelter under the workshop and warned us that if WW3
were to occur, that we couldn’t tell anyone about it! But, the one
thing he showed us that was cooler than everything else was a go kart
he made with his dad when he was a small boy. My friend Eric and I were
so excited about it that he gave it to us! He even spent a couple hours
with us pushing us down a sidewalk at an old church down the street
from where we grew up. After a few weeks, Eric and I had installed an
engine and new wheels and could be found zipping around the
neighborhood. We loved that go kart! I always imagined Travis riding
around on it when he was a young boy. When the iron frame gave out on
us, Travis even broke out an old welder and fixed it for us. He was one
of the kindest guys we knew. When most adults yelled at us to go away,
he invited us in and created an adventure.
During the 90’s, I would drive by his house and wonder where he was. I
always figured he was somewhere continuing to create incredible things.
The kind of things you only see in movies or read about in books. Even
in the last 10 years, after graduating from ASU with a EE degree in
1999, I continued to wonder about Travis. After reading his obituary,
I now know about some of the incredible things he has done. I wish I
could have talked to him again. I wish I could have met his wonderful
family. I wish he could have met my wife and child. I wish I could have
helped create gadgets with him. I wish I could have let him know about
how he was such a wonderful part of my childhood. I will never forget
Travis Wood. I’m sure he is in heaven right now creating a gadget with
God. He’s probably showing God a thing or two :)
Joe Swingler, Tucson AZ
I have a couple childhood memories of Travis in which I
would like to share. He was 6 years older than I was, and the way I
actually remember him is looking up and seeing a tall skinny teenager with long
blonde hair. He always had a smile on his face and of course, I will
never forget his signature laugh. He lived in Phoenix, Arizona on
Highland Street and I lived a couple houses down the alley on Wolf Street.
I was one of the kids, mentioned in his obituary, where he ran wire from his
house to ours. There were speakers on both ends and a microphone on his
side. He would talk to us at night and we could hear him loud and
clear. But, the only way we could talk to him was by shouting into
the speaker. I was amazed that it worked! He could actually hear us!
Being the prankster, he told us stories of a mother in the
neighborhood with a glass eye. He would tell us that she would pop her
eye out and place it on a window sill at night so she could look through the
window. Well after telling us that story, my sister and I were petrified
to go to bed. We kept thinking there was an eye looking through our
window. We actually built up enough courage one night to look through the
window. As we peeked through the crack of the curtains, sure enough there
was an eye looking straight at us! We jumped 10 feet and ran out of our
room like there was no tomorrow! My dad went to look out on the
window sill and there it was, an eye ball. Fortunately, it was only a
ping pong ball painted to look like one. I can remember when Travis found
out how we reacted and he could not stop laughing!
Me and my best friend Chuck Hann, my
neighbor at the time, were involved in what Travis created and called “Friends
Films”. He would use an 8mm video camera to create movies where we
would move along without walking, almost as if we had hidden wheels under our
feet. We would also disappear in a flash and then reappear. He
created these films by tediously clicking the on and off button on the camera
within seconds. We would then move and he would click on and off
again. It took hours to make these films, but when they were done I was impressed!
For being the 70’s, it was definitely high tech at the time, especially
for a young kid like Travis to produce. To this day, I wish I had a copy
of some of them. With good fortune, I just talked to Chuck and he said he
just converted some of them to DVD. Maybe we can publish some of them on
the web to show how creative he was at such a young age.
I did see Travis one last time in
the early 90’s when I was in college earning my EE degree at Arizona
State University. We were both in the same dynamics class together.
But, I will always remember Travis when I was a kid. Him in his ham shack
with a twenty foot antenna. Or creating some kind of electronic gadget, playing
with strobe lights, etc. I could go on and on. There were many
memories and I will cherish them. He played a big part in my childhood
and I will not forget him.
My sincere condolences go out to
the Wood family, especially Katherine, Garrick,
and Veronica in which unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet.
My prayers are with you all.
A childhood friend
Shortly after Travis began working here at China Lake, he and I
traveled to Ft. Walton Beach, FL for a management review of the
Tactical Combat Training System program of which his project was one of
the key subsystems. It happened to coincide with spring break and the
hotel was filled with college students. I was staying at one end of the
complex and Travis was at the other. At breakfast the next morning I
asked how he had slept and he said "well there were kids running up and
down the hall all night long and then one of them pulled the fire alarm
right outside my door". In typical Travis fashion, he not only found it
amusing but he was interactive and alert during the entire lengthy
meeting. I miss him very much.
I was Travis' supervisor when he passed away.
I walked in to Travis' cube to gather his things.
On one side, computer books.
On the other, pictures of his family.
No "I love me" wall.
To me, that says it all.
I'll miss working with him,
and I'll miss his friendship even more.
Head, Combat Environment Software Branch
China Lake, CA 93555
My story is an example of Travis’
enthusiasm about technology.
I am an Amateur Radio operator
and Travis worked with me at NASA Dryden. As I got to know Travis
I found out that anything technology related interested him and I also
learned that his Dad was a HAM radio operator too. I shared with
Travis one of my favorite HAM activities: Transmitter hunting (kind
of a treasure hunt with radios). I shared the basic premise and
when I saw that he was truly interested I invited him to go with me
on our next T-hunt. This hunt was a shared event, our Antelope
Valley group and the Palos Verde group, kind of a Transmitter Hunt on
steroids. The day of the hunt I explained that normally someone
would hide a transmitter that transmitted every few minutes for about
a minute. I then explained that we had a receiver with a directional
antenna and other geek stuff in the truck. With this equipment and radio
direction finding techniques we would get close with the car and then
when the signal was so strong that it overwhelmed the system in the
truck we would park and find it on foot. I then gave Travis a
hand held radio and directional antenna and a brief tutorial on how
he would use them once we leave the truck on foot. This hunt was
a little different, there would be 15 transmitters not just one.
Travis was jazzed. We went out early to hide the Transmitters
I had made up and then met the others for breakfast in Mojave.
We left the restaurant and
turned on the radio we could here several transmitters. I told Travis
to pick one and we would go find it. It wasn’t long before we
needed to stop and set out on foot. At this point Travis was quite
enthused about it all and before the truck came to a stop he jumped
out with the hand held radio in one hand, and the antenna in the other.
He then spun around on his toes in what could only be described as the
Travis brought this enthusiasm
to what ever he did. From his DARPA challenge (R Junk Works),
to the elaborate Halloween display he and Kathy put together every year.
It was fun to share these things with Travis. I feel privileged to have
known him and honored to call him friend.
We had the pleasure
of knowing Garrick's father, Travis through our son's school. Garrick and our son are in the same grade and have been going
to school since kindergarten. Our beginning memories of The Wood Family
started in August 2005 in kindergarten. I remember every day Travis would
come to pick up Garrick from school. He always had Veronica with him. She
was a cutie pie. We would see Travis almost every day for the next good 3 years
picking Garrick up. He was a very loving, dedicated, wonderful father. there
were many times during the early years I thought to myself, how wonderful he has
chosen to stay with the kids while they were young. Travis was almost always at
Garrick's class parties for school, the field trip to the LA Zoo in 2nd grade,
and regularly came for lunch visits when Garrick was in 1st and 2nd grade.
Recent memories of Travis have been at both Garrick and Wesley's 9th birthday
parties. Wesley always looks forward to the fun boy Mulligan parties
Garrick has had the past couple years. You saw the passion Travis had
in his eyes for his son Garrick. George and I were just talking about how loving
of a family The Woods are. Two years in a row you attended the skating
party the four of you. Out of all of the parents, there are only a few parents
that ever try skating. This past year at Wesley's 9th birthday, I remember
Travis helping Veronica with the Limbo game. She did so well. I remember
fondly, him on the skating rink with his shoes on helping her not fall while she
was skating. And she did real well with the limbo. Both Travis and
Kathy ALWAYS gave skating a try at our party. Not to many parents would
even attempt it. I ALWAYS saw the two of them giving there best. it
was great. You both were not afraid to have fun and give it a try.
When I saw Kathy skating on the floor, I would look over and see Travis on
the side with his shoes on helping the kids. Or vice-versa. May your love for
each other and your dedication to your children and family be an example to
everyone what a true family is. Our family is still in shock and heart
broken. It really gives you a prospective on life and how short life really is.
We will all miss Travis. We will all miss seeing him at school. Out of all of
the fathers in the past 5 years at our school, Travis was always there for
Garrick and Veronica. We will miss seeing him in years to come, but will always
know he is still there with us in spirit. Our prayers and blessings are with
Garrick and his loss of his father. He is a wonderful, creative, very
intelligent little boy that still holds lots of innocence in him. May God
bless Kathy, Garrick and Veronica. Travis, you will be deeply missed and
never forgotten. May your legacy live within the hearts and souls of your two
George, Amber and
Thank you for finding a way to let me know about Travis. He and I have not
been in touch for a few years now. I have many memories as a kid spending time
with him. Being several years younger than him I think I bugged him most of the
time. He was always nice to me. We were always trying to figure out ways to
connect our houses together with electronic gadgets of one kind or
I miss him. My heart goes out to you and your
To All of Travis' family and friends,
I had the privilege of working for and with Travis during his time
at China Lake. His personality was a great combination of friendly,
competent, and creative attributes. I was always amazed at his quick
grasp of problems and his inventive solutions. His creativity was one
of the things I most admired about him, although (out of envy?) I would
sometimes tease him by saying his new idea was 'fully baked'. He always
took the teasing with a good humor and would argue persuasively for his
It was with real sadness that I heard of his passing. This is a
great loss for his family and all of his friends. And for all of the
friends he would have made.
met Travis when I was a technician supporting the MassComp (flutter)
computer systems at EAFB. We were both CSC employees at that time.
Over the course of the years, I got to ‘know’ Travis. We were never
what you’d call ‘close’. Still. I liked Travis immensely. He was one
of those people who treated even an acquaintance as if he’d known you
forever. I got the impression that he wore his heart on his sleeve,
and the openness and friendliness that were on the surface ran all the
way through him. He was genuine, didn’t seem as if he hid a thing. I
don’t think he knew how. He was one of those people—at least for
me—who when I saw him I could not keep from smiling. That’s how I
remember him now, with that same smile in my heart. It sounds corny,
but knowing guys like Travis make the rest of us better people. My
sincerest condolences to you and the family. You are all, including
Travis, in my prayers.
I wanted to offer my condolences and tell the family my thoughts,
only met Travis once, at Becky's birthday party at our home, I had a
conversation with Travis and found he was a very genuine, smart person.
I find it difficult to connect with people sometimes especially being
deeply enthralled in technology based topics as I am, but I found he
was very knowledgeable in every subject I was talking about, and I
understood what he was talking about, so we kinda clicked :-)
I know he was a very loving father and husband, and my thoughts are
with all of you that knew and loved Travis, as a friend, a husband, and
a father, a son.
have not lost many people that I knew or were close to in my lifetime,
but the loss of losing someone I have only met once as hit me harder
than I thought possible, I guess you just know when a person is a great
person. I know that every time I meet someone that gives me a blank
stare when I talk about what is passionate to me, I will think of
Travis doing the opposite. He truly was a great person, I know this to be true.