Gerben Sonderman studied at the Academy for Physical Training. Following graduation he became a teacher at a high school and, after joining the Rotterdam Lloyd Shipping Company, was appointed a physical training instructor. Later he joined the Netherlands Air Force, thereby achieving a long-standing ambition.
In October 1936 he was appointed as a pilot officer in the Reserve. On January 23rd, 1939, he entered the service of the Fokker company as a test pilot, and tested the D.21, D.23 and G.I fighters, as well as the T.5, T.8-W and T.9 bombers. During the German invasion he fought gallantly, in a G.I, against the Luftwaffe, and during the occupation was an active member of the resistance movement. After the war, in 1946-47, he was one of the few Dutch pilots to take the E.T.P.S. course in England. In January 1947 he was promoted 1st lieutenant and, in May 1948, captain. Thereafter he became personal pilot to His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard and to the Netherlands Royal Family. He was made a lieutenant-colonel in 1954.
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