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A.L. Patterson, as he signed the Floyd Bennett Field Register, was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. His date of birth was documented either April 1, 1901, April 10, 1901, October 10, 1900 or October 10, 1901. His date of death at age 91 on August 21, 1991 would preclude precisely any of these dates, but October 10, 1900 would put him closest to 91 (90 years, 10 months, 11 days), but see below. There is also record that he was born in 1895. I have also seen his first name spelled Allen. With that uncertainty, let's continue with more.

Patterson landed on an unidentified date (probably during 1933) flying a Ryan B1 he identified as NR145. Unfortunately, there was no such registration number assigned to any Ryan aircraft of the era. There was a B-1 Brougham NC1415, S/N 33, that could be his airplane if he left out the numeral 1. And there was a Ryan SWC-145 model, but it wasn't built until 1937. We're just not sure of his airplane registration number. He left no indication of passengers or destination.

The photograph, below, of Patterson (far left) is from this REFERENCE.

"Pat" Patterson, Left, Ca. 1926-27 (Source: Link)
"Pat" Patterson, Left, Ca. 1926-27 (Source: Link)


Oakland Tribune, July 14, 1937 (Source: newspapers.com)




This quote, from the late J. Ron Dickson, details the airplane above. "Bill Waterhouse and Lloyd Royer built the Romair bi-plane for Pacific Air Transport and the Cruizair monoplane at Glendale Airport. The Cruizair drawings were purchased by T.C. Ryan in San Diego and were modified into The Spirit of St. Louis."


Oakland Tribune, October 30, 1937 (Source: newspapers.com)


After a visit to the U.S. from his base in China, an interesting prediction by Patterson in 1937, right, concerned Chinese and Japanese aircraft and their abilities. This article is clipped from a longer one that described the departure of the "China Clipper" from Alameda. An immigration form at ancestry.com identified his date of arrival as July 8, 1937.


A couple of months after his arrival back in China, an article appeared in the Oakland Tribune, December 14, 1937, assuring Americans that Patterson had not been on board the American gunboat U.S.S. Panay when it was erroneously bombed and sunk by the Japanese on the Yangtze River near Nanking. A day earlier, the Tribune had included him among the people aboard the ship.


This departure on October 29, 1937 was also documented on a separate immigration form, below. His fellow passengers were also cited in the same news article. Note that Patterson's marital status was identified as single on that date.


From his obituary, below, Patterson was married seven times. At some point he married married Ada Curtis (1902-1993). They were divorced before 1930, because Ada was married to another man and had two daughters by him, according to the 1930 Census coded April 14th. I found no information about his next five wives. His last wife was Tyne Sau Wah, who survived him after his death, according to his obituary, below.













Immigration Form, October 29, 1937 (Source: ancestry.com)
Immigration Form, October 29, 1937 (Source: ancestry.com)

In 1939 he traveled to the U.S. again. His departure from Hong Kong was documented on the immigration form below, dated April 6, 1939. Notice that his marital status was identified as married.

Immigration Form, April 6, 1939 (Source: ancestry.com)
Immigration Form, April 6, 1939 (Source: ancestry.com)


Van Nuys News, November 27, 1939 (Source: newspapers.com)
Van Nuys News, November 27, 1939 (Source: newspapers.com)


San Bernardino County Sun (CA), April 17, 1939 (Source: newspapers.com)
San Bernardino County Sun (CA), April 17, 1939 (Source: newspapers.com)


We can guess why he traveled to the U.S. this time The article at left, from the San Bernardino County Sun (CA), April 17, 1939, cites a contract for $15 million worth of American-made warplanes for the Chinese government.

While he was in town, he suffered an accident in a glider in Los Angeles. The article at right from the Van Nuys News, November 27, 1939 described the situation.

The 1940 Census placed him as a resident of the Hotel Lexington in Manhattan, NY. He was 39 years old and coded as divorced. His occupation was identified as "Executive" in the "Import/Export" business. His income was $5,000 per year, a nice salary in 1940.

His residence in 1935 was identified as Shanghai, China on the Census form. It is not clear if he remained from April to November because of the injuries he sustained from his gliding accident.

Moving through WWII, in another trip, he arrived at New York from Montreal, Canada on March 2, 1945. I am not sure what his activities were during WWII, but they probably had to do with aviation parts supply.

The immigration form documenting his entry is below. At least one well-known business man rode wth him. Robert (R.B.C.) Noorduyn founded Noorduyn Aircraft Limited in 1933. A Dutch immigrant to Canada, Mr. Noorduyn, who had spent several years working for Fokker Aircraft in Europe and in the USA, came to Canada with the vision of creating a new aircraft adapted to the harsh environments of western and northern Canada where new air routes were being opened for exploration.

Noorduyn Norseman in Canadian Livery, 1935 (Source: Web)
Noorduyn Norseman in Canadian Livery, 1935 (Source: Web)


Indeed, the Noorduyn Norseman, left, was first flown on November 14, 1935. Noorduyn had a contract with the British and U.S. military for airplanes, but it is not clear why he was visiting the U.S. this time.

Patterson's airplane on this trip, below, the Douglas DC-3-270B NC28360 S/N 2271, was manufactured in 1940 and commandeered by the USAAF on June 8, 1942. It flew for about two years as a C-49E-DO. It went back to civil registry as NC28360 on June 21, 1944. It flew with Colonial Airlines, Canada for about six years, then was sold to Capital Airlines and named "Capitaliner Charlotte" on May 25, 1950. It then went to United Airlines, June 1, 1961 and finally to the Beldex Corp, St Louis, MO on April 22, 1963. It was destroyed by a tornado at McBride, MS December 21, 1967, an unlikely date for a tornado.

Immigration Form, March 2, 1945 (Source: ancestry.com)
Immigration Form, March 2, 1945 (Source: ancestry.com)

According to his obituary, below, Patterson continued his business interests in China after the war. He moved to China in 1960 and returned to the U.S. in the late 1980s.

Patterson flew West on August 21, 1991 at age 91 from La Mesa, San Diego, CA. His obituary in the San Diego Union (CA), Sunday, September 1, 1991 provided a broad overview of his life and accomplishments, below.

Deceased Name: Allan Patterson; pioneer flier, representative of U.S. in Asia

Allan Lonsdale "Pappy" Patterson, 91, who represented the U.S. government in Asia for many years and who reportedly sold more San Diego-built airplanes there than any other person, died Aug. 21 in Alvarado Hospital. He had been a resident of La Mesa since retiring in Hong Kong two years ago.

He was a friend of the late T. Claude Ryan. He and Bill Waterhouse, with others, developed the Cruzair monoplane, which, when they ran short of funds, they sold to Ryan Aeronautics. That plane became the prototype for Charles A. Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, in which he made the first trans-Atlantic solo flight in 1927.

Mr. Patterson was said to be the second licensed private airplane pilot in China. He was a friend of Chiang Kai-shek, and he became the first known skywriter in China when he wrote the symbol for "long life" in the sky on the occasion of Chiang's 50th birthday. The mile-wide greeting was said to have stalled traffic for miles around. Mr. Patterson, called "Pat" long before the sobriquet "Pappy" caught on, was born in Canada in either 1895 or 1900. Both dates appear in records. He preferred the latter. He was brought up by his grandfather in Ottawa.

He learned to fly a Wright Pusher in 1914, 11 years after Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the skies. He dropped out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, went to England, and joined the Royal Flying Corps in World War I. He saw action in Italy and North Africa before he was discharged in 1918.

For the next three years, he ran a flying circus, was a barnstormer, flew bootleg whiskey from Canada to Chicago and sold JN4D Jennies. He settled in Los Angeles in 1921 and opened a flying school, where he taught William Randolph Hearst to fly. Another student was Freddie Wong, who later commanded the Canton Air Force.

He and others founded Pacific Airmotive in Los Angeles, the first large-scale aviation parts and repair company.

As an aircraft designer, businessman and entrepreneur, he had accumulated a fortune. He lost everything in the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.

Hearing that Gen. Chiang Kai-shek planned to open an airline in China, Mr. Patterson took off for Shanghai, with the IRS at his heels.

He became a legend in Asia and returned to this country only when his health failed and he came back to settle in La Mesa.

He had met Claire Chennault in 1926. They resumed their friendship in China, and he flew briefly for Chennault over the hazardous Himalayan "Hump" to bring supplies to the Flying Tigers and the wartime Chinese capital of Chungking.

He became involved in several aircraft and aircraft parts companies in this country and was selling both planes and parts in China. By 1934, he was recognized by the U.S. government and was made "China representative of the Bureau of the Air" by the U.S. Department of Commerce. His tasks in this post included supervising the registration of U.S. aviators living in China.

Mr. Patterson was in close contact with the Pentagon and U.S. Air Force officers, including Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, through World War II. He continued business interests in China after the war.

He moved to Hong Kong in 1960, where he set up Airservices Co. Ltd., selling equipment and planes to a number of Asian countries and representing 125 manufacturers.

He gave up flying in 1975.

Later in 1975, he sold his business but continued to work as a consultant.

Mr. Patterson had been married seven times.

He is survived by his wife, Tyne Sau Wah of La Mesa, and his daughter, Diana Lonsdale Gauthey of San Francisco.

There will be no services.

Cremation was planned, with half the ashes to be scattered over San Diego Bay and the other half over Hong Kong Bay.

Below, from The Correspondent, November, 1991, a publication of the Foreign Correspondent's Club, Hong Kong, part of Patterson's ashes received their final goodbye in Hong Kong.

The Correspondent, Hong Kong, November, 1991 (Source: ancestry.com)
The Correspondent, Hong Kong, November, 1991 (Source: ancestry.com)

Patterson has no Web presence that I could determine. And only a few news articles were found, probably because he spent a lot of time in China.



The Register

I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Patterson to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.


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