Reda Anderson in April 2006. Photo by Michael Belfiore.

Reda Anderson in April 2006. Photo by Michael Belfiore.

Pioneers are those brave enough to go where no one, or few, have gone before. Usually that involves taking a risk; if it were completely safe, the way would already be well-traveled.

Reda Anderson was such a one. I had the pleasure of meeting her back in 2006, when she was the first paying customer to sign up for a flight on a risky, but technically sound venture called Rocketplane. She was then 66 years old.

“”If you think I don’t know that I could absolutely die in this,” she told me for my Popular Science article on Rocketplane, “you’ve got to be an idiot.”

She was funny and warm-hearted, but nevertheless hard-nosed about her real estate investments and her assessment of the risk of being the first paying passenger on a new suborbital spaceship. Risk, for her, was part of living life to the fullest. She surprised me after our first meeting by giving me a hug.

We kept in touch over the years. She enjoyed my newsletters and I enjoyed hearing about her latest adventure travel exploits. Rocketplane never got off the ground, but Anderson never lost her enthusiasm for the great adventure called life. She quietly hedged her Rocketplane bet with a reservation on a flight aboard SpaceShipTwo.

She let me know that she had stage IV cancer in June. “There is no higher purpose than to inspire others,” she told me then. Her son told me a couple of weeks ago that she had recently succumbed to her illness.

Goodbye, Reda. Thanks for the inspiration.