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William "Pat" Patterson (1899-1980) was a pioneer of commercial aviation and served as the President of United Airlines from 1934 until 1966. Born in Oahu, HI, Patterson began his career in banking, starting as an office boy at Wells Fargo Bank and working his way up to the loan department. In 1927, he approved a loan to Pacific Air Transport Company and became friends with the airline's president, Vern Gorst. Patterson suggested that Gorst sell the company to Boeing Airplane Company, and Boeing's president, impressed with Patterson' role in the sale, hired him to be his assistant in 1929. In 1931 Boeing Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, National Air Transport, and Varney Air Lines merged to form United Air Lines and Patterson moved to Chicago to become the new airline's general manager. In 1933, Patterson was promoted to vice president and in 1934, he became United Airlines' president, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1966. After his retirement, Patterson was elected Chairman of the United Airlines Board, a position he held until 1966; he was then named Director Emeritus and Honorary Chairman of United Airlines. Patterson was an NAA Elder Statesman (1969), winner of the National Aeronautic Association's Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (1976), and enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame (1976).



Processing Information

Arranged, described, and encoded by Patti Williams, 2018.




Patricia P. Dudley, Gift, 2018, NASM.2018.0068


1.43 Cubic feet (2 boxes)


This collection documents William "Pat" Patterson's aviation career with United Air Lines.


No restrictions on access


Collection descriptions

Archival materials


Photographic prints

Arrangement note

Arranged by type.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the following types of material documenting William "Pat" Patterson's aviation career with United Air Lines: photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, certificates, invitations, programs, and one 16 by 18 inch black scrapbook.



Photographic prints


Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.


Boeing Company

Patterson, William

Topics Aeronautics
United Airlines
Aeronautics, Commercial
Newspapers -- 20th century


William "Pat" Patterson Collection, NASM.2018.0068, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives