Reynolds, Peter T. "Pete," 69, the former head of flight testing at Bombardier Learjet, died peacefully on April 10, after a courageous battle with cancer. Pete was one of the most experienced civil jet pilots in the world and a loving and devoted husband and father. He is survived by his wife Becky, son Todd (Meredith) and daughter Kelly. Pete was born May 25, 1944, in Panama City, Panama to the late Vince and Maude Reynolds. His sister, Lynn Reynolds Price, and brother, Steve Reynolds, also preceded him in death. Pete graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Engineering and received his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder. After he served in the United States Air Force as a Pilot in Vietnam and an Instructor Pilot in the States, a visit to a friend brought Pete to Wichita. He went to work at Gates Learjet Corporation as a Production Test Pilot, which began an illustrious career that spanned four decades. Pete quickly moved from Production Test Pilot to Project Test Pilot, then Manager of Learjet Engineering Flight Test. He played a major role in the development, testing, and certification of every Learjet model for more than 30 years, spending his last eight years at Bombardier as Vice President of Test Flight. In that position he managed 500 employees and was responsible for all flight testing conducted on Canadair, deHaviland and Learjet products. Pete was an active test pilot with over 13,000 flight hours and over 10,000 flight test hours. He was type rated in 12 business jets and airline aircraft. Pete flew maiden flights on eight Learjet models, from the Learjet 24E to the Learjet 40, and holds numerous world speed records. Five of those were set with Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, in the Learjet 28-001 on February 19-20, 1979. Reynolds and Armstrong set records for time-to-climb, altitude and altitude in horizontal flight. Pete's career was highlighted with numerous awards and accomplishments. In 1983 he was the only General Aviation Pilot to be a Finalist in NASA Space Shuttle. In 1992 he received the Kansas Governor's Aviation Honors Award. In 1993 he was elected a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. In 1999 he received the Society of Experimental Test Pilots J.H. Doolittle Award for outstanding achievements in aerospace engineering and technical management. Pete retired from Bombardier in 2003 and formed PTR Aero, providing flight test consulting services to airframe manufacturers and major aircraft modifiers worldwide. This new venture allowed Pete to travel the world with Becky and their children, visiting all seven continents. When his illness prevented his going on a planned African Safari, he vicariously lived the trip through the photos and stories his son Todd shared. From the frigid glaciers of Antarctica, to tropical rainforests, to the historic cities of Europe, Pete documented his travels with his discerning photographer's eye. His spectacular photography captured the essence of wildlife, natural beauty and manmade wonders. Friends say Pete could go anywhere in the world with a pair of khakis, a pair of jeans and his camera in his flight bag. Of his many accomplishments, Pete was proudest of his family. He and Becky married in July of 1977 and have two children, Todd and Kelly, as well as 4 nephews and 1 niece. Becky was Pete's best friend for nearly 40 years, and all one had to do is see the gleam in Pete's eye when he talked about his kids to know they were the pride of his life. Both Todd and Kelly are graduates of the University of Kansas and the Reynolds family became passionate KU basketball fans, traveling to many games in Lawrence as well as the Final Four in 2008. Pete will be inducted posthumously in the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame at the Kansas Aviation Museum from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15. Fittingly, memorial services will be held at 2:00 on Wednesday, April 16 in the Lee Aviation Hangar (south entrance) at the Stearman Field Airport in Benton, KS. Memorials have been established with Homes For Our Troops, 6 Main Street, Taunton, MA 02780 as well as the Peter Reynolds Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Wichita State University Foundation, 1845 Fairmount St. Wichita, KS 67260-0002. Downing & Lahey Mortuary West. Online tributes to the family via www.dlwichita
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Published in The Wichita Eagle on Apr. 13, 2014