Aviation training pioneer Paul E. Sanderson, 86, died of natural causes on Oct. 23. He dedicated his life’s work to training pilots, developing flight training curricula, and serving the aviation community.
Sanderson was a pioneer in recognizing the advantages of technology in pilot training, and was the first to develop programs featuring specific aircraft types. He received the National Aeronautic Association’s Elder Statesman of Aviation award in 1999. Earlier this year he was inducted into the National Association of Flight Instructors’ Hall of Fame, but he was not able to attend the ceremony in Oshkosh, Wis.
“We have lost a visionary, a pioneer and a dear friend to aviation,” said Mark Van Tine, Jeppesen president and chief executive officer. “He will be sorely missed. Paul’s lifelong passion changed the face of general aviation flight training. More than anything, though, I will always treasure Paul’s kindness and generosity. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.”
Sanderson joined the Navy in 1942. While serving as an aviation instructor, he discovered his talent and love for teaching. He held several flight instructor positions after he was discharged, and eventually led the Link Trainer Department at Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, now Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
He then started the Sanderson Aviation Ground School, which provided pilot training courses. Sanderson recognized the value of multimedia training early, and to reinforce his course manuals, he developed a private pilot program using phonograph records synchronized to slides—state-of-the-art technology in the 1950s. A program developed with Cessna Aircraft in 1958 was later tailored to the aircraft of other manufacturers. Eventually he offered courses from private pilot through airline transport pilot, and the company became Sanderson Films, Inc.
Sanderson sold his business to the Times Mirror Company in 1968, which merged it with Jeppesen in 1974. He continued to work for many years in an executive capacity, including 30 years as vice chairman of Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc., but teaching and training remained his passion. He retired in 1998.
Sanderson was born in Otway, Ohio, on Nov. 23, 1922. He is survived by his wife, Pauline; children Paul M., Bruce, Randall, and Amy; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A funeral Mass was held Oct. 29 in Cary, N.C.