Aviation training pioneer Paul Sanderson died Oct. 23 of natural causes at age 86. He was the founder of Sanderson Films, a Jeppesen heritage company, and father of modern multimedia flight training programs.
“We have lost a visionary, a pioneer and a dear friend to aviation,” said Mark Van Tine, Jeppesen president and chief executive officer. “Paul’s lifelong passion changed the face of general aviation flight training, and he was instrumental in establishing Jeppesen as the premier provider of high-quality training products. 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 was recently inducted into the National Association of Flight Instructors’ Hall of Fame in recognition of his life’s work training pilots, developing flight training curricula and serving the aviation community.
He developed a passion for aviation and education while serving in the Navy during World War II. Upon his discharge, he held several flight instructor positions and eventually led the Link Trainer Department at Embry Riddle School of Aviation (now Embry Riddle Aeronautical University).
In 1956 he founded his own ground school, offering private pilot training through airline transport pilot courses. Focused on fostering the best possible learning environment for his students, he was one of the first to recognize the effectiveness of technology as an aviation training tool. He began taping himself in the classroom using then state-of-the-art reel-to-reel tapes to which he added a series of more than 800 35-millimeter slides and preprinted notes for his students to follow along with. This became the basis for the Sanderson Audio Visual Training System, which would train millions of pilots worldwide.
He was also the first to develop programs featuring specific types of aircraft. Cessna management was the first to see the benefits of such programs and in 1960 contracted Sanderson to create 100 complete courses featuring the Cessna 150. He would go on to create customized courses for Piper, Beech, Grumman, Hughes Helicopters and numerous other manufacturers. With the delivery of these courses, Sanderson Films, Inc. was an integral part of the extraordinary run of student starts between 1962 and 1967, which stands as the largest in the history of general aviation.
Sanderson sold his business to the Times Mirror Company in 1968, who merged it with Jeppesen in 1974. He served 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 actively guided the development of every significant training program the company launched, including the acclaimed Guided Flight Discovery series, until his retirement in 1998.
Sanderson is survived by his wife, Pauline, and children Paul M., Bruce, Randall and Amy.
For more information: Jeppesen.com.