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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : features May 29, 2016


4/9/2013 2:43:00 PM
Bob Reynolds returns to the air and flies again
Bob Reynolds gets situated in the cockpit with help from his friend Dale Williams before a flight on Sunday, April 7. Courtesy photo by Brian Lewis
Bob Reynolds gets situated in the cockpit with help from his friend Dale Williams before a flight on Sunday, April 7. Courtesy photo by Brian Lewis
Dale Williams and Bob Reynolds buzz over Cottonwood on Sunday. Courtesy photo by Brian Lewis
Dale Williams and Bob Reynolds buzz over Cottonwood on Sunday. Courtesy photo by Brian Lewis


Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


Correction: A feature celebrating Bob Reynolds’ to return to flight despite the loss of both legs to diabetes, in the Wednesday, April 10, publication, included a mistake that identified Bob as a veteran of the Navy. While his father was a Navy man, Bob was discharged with full honors from the Air Force.

A second error identified his military aircraft as an A-26 bomber, when, in fact, it was re-designated a B-26 after WWII in 1948 and during the Korean War. The craft was modified again to be used in the Vietnam conflict. Bob was a gunner.

COTTONWOOD -- Bob Reynolds hasn't flown a plane in years. Bob has diabetes and both legs have been amputated below the knees. He now gets around with prosthetic limbs,that can be a little fussy at times.

We should say Bob hasn't flown an airplane, until Sunday. There was still fair weather before that fierce wind-storm rolled in Monday. Friend Dale Williams took 79-year-old Bob up for a spin around the Verde Valley in his Cessna Cardinal.

Bob took the controls and has gotten a new lease on life. Now, Bob is looking forward to getting his vehicle driver's license renewed. He still has a pilot's license but needs a medical clearance.

Bob will tell you, "I live aviation."

There is a photo on his memory wall of Korean War memorabilia. It shows a beaming Bob Reynolds at 18 having completed his 52nd and last mission of the conflict. Bob was never a pilot during the war, he was a gunner and flew as a navigator in the right seat of the A-26 Douglas Invader, a light bomber.

Bob tells me that he didn't eat breakfast to save room for the turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day 1952 but never got to that meal because he got called to a special assignment during the day. He said the weather was miserable. There was ice on the Plexiglas nose cone and it was snowing.

Bob was in an eight-year program, with four years active and four in the Reserves. But, before he completed his Navy service, Bob got his pilot's license in 1955.

When honorably discharge, Bob was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross among other medals and certifications for his duty during the Korean War.

He has always valued air flight. His father had been in the Navy and also received the DFC for his service during World War II.

After service, Bob piloted an Aeronica Champion and a Taylorcraft. But he went to work for Lockheed before it merged with Martin and worked as a Senior Logistics Specialist for 34 years with tours in England, Singapore and Greenland, often in submarines for the military.

In 2004 he moved to Cottonwood. Bob said he had been diagnosed with diabetes and went on the exercises, medicine and diet but eventually one leg was removed in 2009 and the other in 2010.

Sunday, when Bob took the controls of Dale's aircraft, he had not flown as a pilot-in-command since 1981.

Long-time pilot Dale Williams, who was active in the CAP, has been active as a mentor in the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program, allowing young students between 8 and 18 to learn to fly. There is no formal chapter in Cottonwood, but Dale has been doing pilots portion individually. There is also a program to get adults in the saddle through the Eagles program. Two of Dale's Young Eagles were on hand to greet Bob when he returned from his flight.

Sunday, when Bob took controls, Dale said it was like he never left the controls. "He flew like a champ." Bob said he got the feel of Dale's Cardinal and conducted some orientation routines in the right seat, but he wasn't comfortable using the brakes for a landing and asked Dale to take her in to the airport in Cottonwood.

Dale says proudly, "We could have another Sir Douglas Bader." The flying ace returned to the air to pilot an aircraft after losing both legs in an airfield crash in the U.K. in 1931.

"I was so proud to have a double amputee show his determination to return to life as close to normal! We had a wonderful flight."


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

I to have diabetes and hold a pilots license but
a medical clearance appears out of the question.
I miss the freedom.If anyone in Cottonwood has interest in a passenger willing to pay the
fuel,I'd be interested.Even touch an go'es


Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Mav Rick

5x5 Robert and thank you for your service.

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Jenifer Ransom

That's a great story. I guess it's like riding a bicycle, you never forget. Hope you can fly again Bob!



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