They returned home to become stable citizens who bought a home, raised a family, usually remained married to the same person 60 years and more, paid their taxes, voted, worked toward retirement in steel mills, brickyards, shoe factories, automobile plants and on the railroads.
Paul Edward Sanderson was born a son of Grover C. and Anna R. Sanderson on Nov. 22, 1922, in Otway, a wide spot in the middle of Ohio 73 in western Scioto County. His father died in 1938 and his mother in 1971. He graduated from high school there in 1941 and was 20 years old when he enlisted in the Navy in September 1942.
Between then and his honorable discharge in September 1948, he was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Medal, the American Area Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
During the final years of the war, and even afterwards, he was an aviation instructor, and credited the Navy with helping him to discover his talent and love for teaching and later developing his Sanderson Aviation Ground School, providing pilot training courses. These early pilot training courses became the basis for developing the Sanderson Audio Visual Training System, which has been used to train more than 2.5 million pilots worldwide.
The other love he discovered in the military was his wife, Pauline, a WAVE from Pittsburgh. They had a military wedding near the end of the war and had been married 64 years when he died three weeks ago at their home in Cary, N.C.
Survivors include his wife, three sons, a daughter, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“He gathered in some big awards during his lifetime, and was really quite a big wig in aviation, although the people of Scioto County are not aware of it,” said his only sibling, Anna Snook, who lives with her husband, Budd, in West Portsmouth.
A list of her brother’s awards she has on hand include:
• Induction into the Flight Instructors Hall of Fame, an award that came this year from the National Association of Flight Instructors as a tribute to his pioneering spirit and innovation that marked the evolution of flight.
• Selection as an Elder Statesman of Aviation by the National Aeronautic Association.
• Educator of the Year Award by Experimental Aircraft Association.
• Grateful Appreciation Award from the Cessna Aircraft Co. for his years of creativity and dedication to helping fledgling pilots.
• Dr. Melvin K. Strickler Jr. Award by the National Coalition for Aviation Education for his outstanding achievements in the field of aerospace education.
It was toward the end of his military stint that he was sent to the Aircraft Instrument and Link Trainer School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was retained as an instructor. Before that, in 1946, Sanderson served on board the newly commissioned USS Boxer for a time out of Guam and the Kwajalein Islands. It was here that he got doses of radiation from the atomic bomb tests the U.S. carried out in the South Pacific.
“The most important story my father told us was how he was responsible for the seaplanes returning from the atomic bomb test sites. The planes were recording levels of radiation,” said Sanderson’s daughter, Amy Roosje, by-email from her home in Cary. “He was in Kwajalein when he was in the CASU (Carrier Aircraft Service Unit). Because of his exposure to great amounts of radiation, the maintenance of the engines (all that air intake) was performed without any protection from the radiation! The pilots were completely protected, of course.
“My father, as a result of that radiation, had serious kidney cancer, the removal of a kidney, and eventually died from renal failure.”
After his discharge from the military, Sanderson attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. In 1950 he taught at Embry Riddle School of Aviation and then started the Sanderson Aviation School providing pilot training courses.
Early on, he recognized the importance of multi-media training, spawning what was to become his legacy of audio-visual training. In 1958 it was initiated with Cessna Aircraft to produce training materials. This training program was later tailored to Piper, Beechcraft, Hughes and Grumman.
He formed Sanderson’s Films and his training programs continued to evolve. They were adopted by thousands of flight schools and became the standard for Air Force ROTC programs.
In 1968 he sold Sanderson Films to Times Mirror, which merged it with Jeppesen & Company in 1974 and relocated it to Denver.
The combined entity, called Jeppesen Sanderson Inc., became the world’s leading flight information services company.
“Throughout his full life, my father was an energetic and vibrant man with many interests, including sports, photography, painting, cars and playing pool in his later years,” said his son, Paul M. “He was an avid golfer and spent many happy hours on the links, but his family was the source of his greatest pleasure.
“We will deeply miss him, his gregarious nature and sharp wit.”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.