Fred G. Sanders

Class of 1945
Inducted 2012


Fred Sanders wanted to study aeronautical engineering after graduation from Will Rogers. Only four schools in the nation offered a degree in that field, and one was Tulsa’s own Spartan College. He completed the four-year program in two years and joined McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis as a design engineer, making $1.22 an hour.

After his military service, Fred returned to McDonnell and worked on the F-4 jet fighter at the Northrop facility in California. Future assignments in St. Louis and Florida included design and managerial leadership positions on the Mercury and Gemini space programs; then it was back to California for the Skylab project.

Because of his excellent communication skills, Fred was frequently called upon to host tours and provide information to Congress, astronauts and scientists, such as Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Fred was awarded the NASA Prestigious Public Service Award in 1974, and was vice president and general manager of the St. Louis division of McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics when he retired in 1988.

The engineers held the lives of the astronauts in their hands and astronaut Bill Pogue, pilot of Skylab 4, said of Fred, “This may seem a trivial problem, but as an ‘end user’ of a product, one certainly feels a surge of confidence when people managing the program, led by Fred Sanders, solved even the most trivial problems with speed, dedication and dispatch.”

Fred died in 2010.