A graduate of Denison University, entrepreneur, public speaker, actor, and pilot, Lynn is most well known for her role as an aerobatic pilot and flight instructor. After graduating from Denison University, Lynn began working for Procter & Gamble in the 1980s, and became one of the first women to hold a position as manufacturing plant manager. While still working as a plant manager, Lynn began taking commercial flight lessons in 1988 and soon discovered a passion for aerobatic flight.
After a year of lessons, Lynn earned the additional rating, quit her job with Procter & Gamble, cashed in her pension plan, and bought a Pitts South-2B aerobatic biplane.
Lynn was then one of the few women flying in air shows. At the time of her death, she was one of the 7% of all pilots who are female.
In addition to her job as a flight instructor, during which she earned over three thousand hours of aerobatic flight, Lynn worked as a consultant and actor for safety videos released by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and hosted segments of the program "Wing Tips" on Discovery Wings. Lynn also relayed her experiences in the cockpit as a motivational speaker for children, civic groups, and businesses.
Lynn"s skill as a pilot earned her a display at the International Women"s Air & Space Museum.
The exhibit, titled "Nancy Lynn: Inspiration Was Her Mission" covers Lynn"s life and career as a female pilot and remained on display through September 2007. Lynn is also featured in Above and Beyond:100 years of Women in Aviation, an award-winning documentary produced by Art-Reach International. On October 14, 2006, Nancy Lynn was flying her Extra Flugzeugbau GMBH 300 in the Culpeper Airfest at the Culpeper Regional Airport (CJR), Culpeper, Virginia.
The only female pilot in the show, Lynn had been flying for approximately 6 to 7 minutes when her plane crashed alongside Runway 22.
The crash created a 950-foot path, which ended 50 feet from the edge of the runway. At the time of the crash, Lynn was reportedly flying a series of flat spins, during which the left wingtip struck the ground.
The aircraft was sent over an embankment, landing upside down and on fire. Rescue crews, along with Lynn"s son Pete who had been narrating her flight, rushed to the scene and were able to cut Lynn from the badly damaged and burned aircraft.
Lynn was flown to a local hospital with burns covering 90% of her body.
She was pronounced dead later that same night. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)"s investigation showed that the propeller had been shattered on impact, but no evidence of mechanical engine failure existed. Witnesses and video footage of the accident indicated Lynn was flying at a constant engine power throughout the maneuver and subsequent accident sequence.
Lynn"s son Pete has stated she simply flew too low and was unable to pull out of the maneuver.
The NTSB later issued a determination which stated the probable cause as "the pilot’s disorientation while performing an aerobatic maneuver, which resulted in the airplane’s inadvertent impact with the ground. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s overuse of prescription medication."
The following year, in October 2007, Culpeper County’s Air Fest was held in memory of Lynn, with the show"s theme billed as "A tribute to Nancy Lynn".