Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

My History

Gary Sanderson

In the months leading up to graduation, I was really unsure about going to pilot training as my navigation and orientation flights as a cadet showed me that I had a lot of trouble with motion sickness. For example, during our field trip after 4th class year, I got sick on the navy destroyer –- and that was even before the dang boat left the dock. Lucky for me, a solution about whether to go to pilot training showed up at the last minute: the Air Force started a special pilot training class that was pipelined into helicopters. It was clearly because of the demands of Vietnam, but it sounded really good to me. I figured I could probably handle low and slow. GarySanderson.jpg

Turns out, there were only 9 guys in my pilot training class, and eight were my USAFA classmates. With the small class and in a unique pilot training program, we really had a ball. We started off at Randolph AFB in T?28s and finished up in the helicopter school at Stead AFB (Reno) Nevada. Even though I was in Vietnam within a couple of months after graduating from pilot training, and I eventually had to go back through jet qualification, this was just the right way for a guy who always had to keep a barf bag in his pocket to start his flying career. I started off in small choppers -- in rescue H?43s -- and eventually ended up with another South East Asia tour in the Super Jollys, HH?53s. After that, I attended jet qualification in T?38s and transitioned into C-130's. I flew WC?130s with the Hurricane Hunters for several years (I had to see if I was still susceptible to motion sickness) before becoming an operations staff headquarters wienie at MAC and flying T?39s to get my flying hours.

After an assignment to AFIT in computers (another really lucky break), I finished my career doing computer-related work at MAC and Readiness Command and AF Communications Command. I ended up my career at the Air Force Design Center at Gunter AFB, Montgomery, AL. I liked the city and the mild winters there and stayed after retiring from active duty.

In my civilian career, I worked as a contractor doing software development and computer services for the Air Force in Montgomery, and eventually transitioned from company employee to consultant to part time to completely retired. I also met my wife in Montgomery and we've been together for over twenty years -- almost doubling my previous marital record. My post-retirement endeavors include volunteer work with an English as a Second Language (ESL) program and a financial counseling activity.
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