Sandy Wheeler left these earthly bonds for good on August 27th, 2019. Born in New York on January 1, 1922, Sandy spent his early childhood in China, where his missionary parents lived for several years. Later, he attended Hill School in Pennsylvania and was an adventurous youth with athletic prowess. His desire to learn to fly led him to enlist in in the Royal Canadian Air Force before the U.S. became involved in WW2. He became a fighter pilot serving in Europe where he flew primarily Hurricanes and Mustangs in the war effort.
After the war, Sandy relocated to Southern California where he attended college, took up scuba diving, mountain climbing, and photography, flew charter flights with his Luscombe Silvare plane, met his first wife, and started a family. Also, during this time in the late 40s, he became interested in flying a relatively new type of aircraft known as the helicopter.
Sandy became a pioneer in this new field of helicopter aviation, and flying helicopters became his career. He is mentioned in more than a few newspaper reports about rescues and medical evacuations by the versatile new type of aircraft. His career took him to many far flung areas of the world, including New Guinea, Alaska, Central America, and Greenland. It was a hazardous but exciting occupation. Just the way he liked it.
In the late 1950s, Sandy joined a company called Rotor Aids based in Ventura. He moved his family to Carpinteria, CA, and when not flying for overseas contracts, he was involved in flying for the offshore petroleum exploration and development that was taking place in the Santa Barbara Channel area. His helicopter exploits continued with write ups about rescues and emergency responses in the local area. It even led to an appearance on the 1950s TV series, “Sea Hunt” which involved the use of a helicopter in one of its episodes.
Sandy continued to fly and enjoy the variety of outdoor activities afforded in the beautiful mountain and coastal areas of Santa Barbara County. He enjoyed sailing, hiking, and photographing the wild parts of the area. He met his second wife, and they lived for stints in Hawaii, Santa Ynez, Arroyo Grande, and eventually settled in Orcutt in 1994. Sandy retired from flying in 1985, but he continued to pursue his other passions and interests for the rest of his 97 years.
Sandy is preceded in his death by his parents, William and Connie Wheeler, his brothers, Reginald (Rex) and Nelson Wheeler, his first wife Inga Wheeler, his son, Bill Wheeler, and his second wife, Evelyn C. Wheeler. He is survived by his daughter, Susan Wheeler and family of Newberg, OR, his son Tom Campbell and family of Castaic, CA, his son Mark Campbell and family of Orcutt, CA, and his very dear friend Betty Lovell of Orcutt, CA.
Sandy is remembered as a kind and caring father and grandfather, a true and loyal friend, an adventurer, and a humble veteran who served courageously in the fight for democracy. In accordance with his wishes, there will be no service. The family will gather to scatter his ashes at sea.