Local pilot flying into 98th birthday

A Columbus senior living community resident who has lived a life of adventure will mark another notable moment in her life when she turns 98 on Tuesday.

Nellie Margaret Reynolds, who has resided at Parkside Court for nearly two years, obtained her private pilot license more than 50 years after she was born, in 1971. Initially she flew with her husband, Charles G. Reynolds, in a Cessna 150, but in 1972 she began studying for instrument training so she could fly farther and safer, she said.

Reynolds joined the Ninety-Nines, the international organization of women pilots, and is a past president of its Indiana chapter.

She also competed in the All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race, better known as the Powder Puff Derby.

In 1984, Reynolds flew to Anchorage, Alaska, in her 172 Cessna for the the Ninety-Nines’ international convention.

Reynolds’ sense of adventure started early. She took her first airplane ride at age 8, in a Ford Trimotor aircraft, and was impressed by the smoothness of its landing, she said.

While a student at Bedford High School, she was active in acrobatics, performing at schools and alumni functions. In 1936, she performed at the Congress Hotel in Chicago.

Her adventurous side continued later in life. Reynolds took two granddaughters with a group down the Grand Canyon in a raft for nine days to celebrate their graduation from high school. Twenty years later, she took two grandsons to Manitoba, Canada to celebrate their graduations and see the tundra and polar bears.

Reynolds and her husband had two sons, Gordon and Randy, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson. She was the school food director for Warren Township in Indianapolis for 28 years.