Kelly Nielson had grown up in Arizona where her father had managed the Sparrow Ridge Airport, a small desert airstrip for private and charter planes. Her father had also offered hourly flying lessons in both fixed wing craft and helicopters at the Nielson Flying School at the airport, although Kelly herself did not become a pilot. She had met Dave Redding, who used to work for her father, and the two of them had started a relationship before Dave went to Vietnam. There he had been taken prisoner, but Kelly had received a telegram stating that he had been killed in action. She went on with her life, lived in Chicago for a time, and even got married, but after the first six months the marriage began to fail, and although she and her husband continued on polite terms, the marriage ended after three years. She had not had any children, although she really wanted to raise a family. Kelly returned to Arizona where she continued to maintain the Sparrow Ridge Airport and where she was reunited with Dave, who returned from Vietnam seriously traumatized by his time as a POW. The two of them rekindled a delicate relationship which worked because they had learned to make allowances for each other.
When Terry Andrews and his three partners, Buddy, Turk, and Elias, masterminded an armored car robbery in Texas and rendezvoused at the Sparrow Ridge Airport where they intended to hijack a charter plane to escape across the border into Mexico, Kelly, Dave, and Al, the short order cook at the airport's diner, were taken hostage. Although Kelly complied with the thieves' demands, she was feisty enough to stand up for herself, and when MacGyver arrived, looking for directions, she sought his help by offering him a cup of coffee with the word "HELP" written inside the mug. The message was intercepted, however, and MacGyver was drawn into the hostage crisis. Although Kelly tended to accept that the situation was hopeless, she offered her cooperation as MacGyver used the materials around him to create smoke bombs and to break out of a meat locker in which he and Kelly were held prisoner. Kelly also understood Dave's fear of flying since his return from Vietnam, but she urged him to find the will to overcome his fear and fly the helicopter to help them fight back. With MacGyver's help, the thieves were apprehended, and Kelly began to recognize that wishes can come true.
Portrayed by: Kay Lenz
Cross Reference: Terry Andrews, Arizona, Buddy, Elias, Dave Redding, Sparrow Ridge Airport, Al Tennyson, Turk, Walt
Episode Reference: Last Stand