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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Alan Lonsdale Patterson Papers

Identifier: 2021-08-03-A
The Alan Lonsdale Patterson Papers document Patterson's life and work in the United States and East Asia (1876-2021, inclusive; 1920-1981, bulk). Materials include correspondence, business records, journals and travel logs, photographs, negatives, films, sound recordings, ephemera, lithographs and hand-drawn sketches, as well as clippings and articles that ALP collected throughout his life. Subjects include ALP’s various companies and contracts, travels and life in Asia and the Middle East, early aviation in China and Taiwan, and early aviation manufacturing in Southern California. Patterson had correspondence with individuals such as William P. Lear, Hazel Ying-Lee, Pearl S. Buck, Claire Chennault, Soong Mei-ling, Howard Hughes, and others. The collection has been arranged into four series: Series I. Professional (1919-1982), Series II. Personal (1894-2002), Series III. Visual and Audiovisual Materials (1876-1990), and Series IV. Biographical Materials (1899-2021).

Series I. Professional makes up the bulk of the collection and consists of materials from ALP's various businesses, dating from 1919-1983. This series is organized chronologically by company with general materials at the end. Much of this series consists of business correspondence, meeting minutes, memos, reports, and small amount of photographs. In addition, there are legal and financial records that include balance sheets, price lists, contracts, orders, and statements. Most of the materials reside in the China Airmotive Company Fed. Inc. and Consolidated Trading Company subseries, with China Airmotive being the first company that ALP established in China in 1931. China Airmotive and Consolidated Trading Company worked together to finance and import aircraft to the Republic of China. There are other companies that ALP began that aren’t as well documented but are an important part of his work in aviation. One of the files include Waterhouse Incorporated, when in the early 1920s he helped fund and develop the Waterhouse Cruzair Monoplane, the prototype for the Spirit of St. Louis. Also included in the collection is a file on Fiji Airways that he established with Harold Gatty (1903-1957) in 1950.

Series II. Personal material consists primarily of correspondence that date from 1900-1991. The correspondence is mostly to ALP from family, friends, and various romantic partners. Mixed in with the correspondence are clippings and photographs that were sent along with the letters. Also included in the series are personal records of ALP, such as identification, military, and financial records. In addition, there are ALP’s journals and address book, his society club invitations and membership cards to his various associations. Contained within the files are also materials that ALP collected including clippings, assorted publications, some original drawings and lithographs, postcards and travel ephemera.

Series III. Visual and Audiovisual Materials includes a significant amount of materials related to both ALP's professional and personal lives. There is a large photographic component to the collection that includes predominately black-and-white photographs and a small assortment of color photographs. Most of the photographs date between the 1920s to the 1930s, although included with the collection are images of the Patterson family dating back to the 1870s up to the 1920s. There are a substantial amount of images dating from 1919 of ALP’s time as a barnstormer in a flying circus and his early career at Dycer Airport, in California where he ran a flight school and managed the airfield.

There is roughly 2.5 cubic feet of photographs that chronical ALP’s professional and personal life in China. The photographs include pictures of ALP’s skywriting event in Shanghai (1936), his social engagements at his home, friends and business associates, city scenes of various locations throughout, China and a large amount of images of the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

There are photographs that depict graphic scenes of war; folders that contain such images have been cited in the inventory.

Included are images of other countries and locations that ALP either visited or worked with. There are photographs from his time working with the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force, as well as his visit to New Delhi, India where he demonstrated the Pilatus PC-6 Porter for Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian Air Force. In addition, the collection includes photographs of ALP and assorted individuals, some of which are aviators like Carl Alfred Nahmmacher (1899-1934) and Claire Lee Chennault (1893-1958). There are also images from aircraft companies, such as the China National Aviation Corporation and Waterhouse Incorporated. In addition, there are photographs of notable aircraft like the Mohawk Model M-1-C New Pinto, Curtiss Hawk III, and GAC Model 102 Aristocrat.

In addition to the still photographs, there are several 8mm and 16mm film reels, audiocassettes, and microcassettes. The films in the collection appear to be home movies created by ALP that document locations he visited and include a small amount of aircraft and war-related topics. The sound recordings in the collection appear to be related to interviews conducted of ALP and his life in aviation. The remaining recordings have minimal identification information or are untitled.

Series IV. Biographical Materials includes the unfinished biographical manuscript written by Richard J. Latham and many notes and correspondence related to the biography of Patterson's life. Many materials include Patterson’s or Latham's notes with them. The series includes clippings, notes, correspondence, photographs, manuscript drafts, and research documents including transcripts of an oral history conducted by the United States Air Force with ALP.


  • 1876-2021
  • Majority of material found within 1920-1981


Language of Materials

Some notes, clippings, and business cards are in Chinese and some correspondence is in Arabic, Spanish and German. All other materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

The films and some of the sound recordings in the collection will require reformatting to be made accessible.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


17 Cubic Feet (21 legal size full-width document boxes (15 1/2" x 10 1/4" x 5), 8 letter size full-width document boxes (12 1/4" x 10 1/4" x 5), 1 letter size half-width document box (12 1/4" x 10 1/4" x 2 1/2"), 1 oversize boxes (16 1/2" x 20 1/2" x 3"), 1 (20 1/2" x 24 1/2" x 3), 1 oversize folder (30" x 40"), 3 glass plate negatives)


Alan Lonsdale Patterson worked extensively in the field of aviation from the 1920s to the 1980s. Throughout his career he worked as a barnstormer, pilot and established multiple companies that facilitated the sale of aircraft and aeronautical equipment, predominately between companies based in the United States and China. The collection represents both his professional and personal life through correspondence, photographs, business records, clippings and audiovisual materials, as well as research notes for a biography based on ALP. The documents in the collection range from the 1870s to 2021, with the bulk of the materials from the 1920s to 1980s.

Biographical Note: Alan Lonsdale Patterson

Alan Lonsdale “Pat” Patterson (1900-1991) was a pilot, barnstormer, and early aviation pioneer who worked extensively in China and Hong Kong during the majority of the 20th century. He was involved in the aeronautical shipping industry, as well as in aircraft design and building. He established numerous companies in East Asia and the United States all related to aircraft manufacturing and sales. He was known for his association with individuals such as Chiang Kai-shek, Claire Chennault, and Howard Hughes, among others.

Patterson was raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada where he was likely born in 1900; although some records state his birth on April 10, 1899 in Illinois. Patterson served in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I from 1916-1918. He attended Asbury College in Ottawa in addition to colleges within the United States. First, he attended the Huntington College in Boston, Massachusetts and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied engineering, history, and mathematics.

Patterson eventually moved to Los Angeles, California in 1919. It was during this time that he began barnstorming and ran a flying school out of Dycer Airport in Gardena, Los Angeles. While Patterson was operating the Dycer Airport, William Waterhouse came to him with sketches for a new high-wing monoplane design. They, along with retired Navy Commander Eston B. Koger, financed and built the aircraft on the Glendale Field. This plane, the Cruzair, was the prototype for the Spirit of St. Louis.

For a period in 1920, Patterson lived in Chicago, Illinois where he took over the James Levy Aircraft Co. and later became the Vice President and General Manager of the International Air transportation Co. During this time he also acted as President of the Aviation Club of Chicago. This furthered his interest in establishing his first aeronautical sales company, the Pacific Airmotive Corporation, in 1928. After the stock market crashed in 1929, Pacific Airmotive closed.

In 1931, after moving to China, Patterson established the China Airmotive Company, with main offices in Shanghai. China Airmotive, an aeronautical shipping company intended to serve Asia and specifically China, was particularly closely linked the Chinese National Air Force, as well as the Royal Thai Air Force and the Dutch East Indies Air Force. He worked during this period with General Chiang Kai-shek, famously skywriting a birthday greeting, the first ever skywriting in Chinese, for Chiang’s 50th birthday celebration. Patterson claimed to have been the driving force behind bringing General Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers to work with the Chinese National Air Force. Patterson was present for early skirmishes between Japanese and Chinese forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War, such as the Battle of Shanghai. But when World War II broke out, Patterson was forced to shut down operations and leave China, flying out on the last plane out of Hankou, China in 1938. The China Airmotive Company was then managed in the United States as part of the Consolidated Trading Company.

During World War II, Patterson had several business ventures: he was the Far East Representative for the U.S. Bureau of Air in the Department of Commerce; he founded Allied Engineering Corporation in 1940 in attempt to manage his China ventures from the United States; and he ran Bristol Aeronautical Corporation at the behest of the United States Navy to design and produce experimental wooden aircraft technology. Bristol Aeronautical was eventually shuttered by the Navy, but not before producing the technology that would later be used for the de Havilland Mosquito Bomber and Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.

Immediately after the war, Patterson founded and then sold Aero Industries Corporation within the space of a year. He then returned to Shanghai, where he replaced the Consolidated Trading Company with the Allied International Company Fed. Inc., which in 1951 would be sold and renamed Allied International Corporation. During the 1950s, as part of the Allied International Corporation he worked with the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force. Patterson traveled extensively before settling in Hong Kong and founding Air Services Company Ltd. in 1960. Patterson remained in Hong Kong until 1989, when he moved to San Diego, California due to health issues. He passed away on August 21, 1991.

Patterson married Martha Miller in 1919. They had two children together but Diana Patterson was the only child who survived to adulthood. Patterson and Martha divorced a year later in 1920. Sometime in the 1930s, Patterson married his second wife, Alexandra Leriou. They shared a home together in Shanghai, China until their divorce in 1946. He married his third wife, Eleanor Quillan, in 1953. Then in the 1960s he was married to his fourth wife Annette [maiden name unknown]. He was briefly married to Sheila Wong from 1980 to 1982. In 1983, Patterson married his sixth and last wife, Tyne Sau Wah, to whom he remained married until his death.

Biographical note derived from collection materials.
Historical: General Airplanes Corporation (1928-1929) General Airplanes Corporation was established in Buffalo, New York in 1928. Alan L. Patterson worked as the Vice President and General Manager and coordinated sales of the GAC’s Aristocrat aircraft series and their mail-airplane. The company manufactured a small cabin monoplane and the first all-metal monocoupe constructed in the world.
Historical: China Airmotive Company Fed. Inc. (1931-1941) China Airmotive Company Fed. Inc. was established by Alan L. Patterson in 1931 and ceased operations in 1941, due to the onset of World War II. ALP served as president and operated in China, with headquarters in Shanghai. The company formed due to ALP's partnership with Leslie A. Lewis of United Aircraft Corporation. The two secured the export representations for numerous American manufacturers. The company represented American aircraft manufactures and sold aircraft materials throughout Asia. It materially assisted in the establishment and growth of the Chinese Air Force and supplied training planes used by the United States Air Force.
Historical: Consolidated Trading Company, Limited (1931-1941) Consolidated Trading Co. was the first company to extend long term credits for the purchase of American aircraft and machine equipment. The company imported aeronautical supplies between the U.S. and Asia, predominantly China.
Historical: Bristol Aeronautics Corporation (1941-1945) A pre-war and wartime engineering company, Bristol Aeronautics Corporation was established under a special management contract with the United States Navy to design and produce experimental aircraft, and particularly wood technology, for the U.S. Navy and Air Force. This company was terminated at the end of World War II. Alan L. Patterson functioned as the Vice President and General Manager for the company with headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut.
Historical: Allied Engineering Corp. (1940-1942) In 1940, Alan L. Patterson established Allied Engineering Corp. in New York as the American agent for both China Airmotive and Consolidating Trading Co. The company moved to New Haven, Connecticut with the onset of World War II. During this time, it operated with the United States Air Force, Navy, and other contractors in development of radar and electronic items. It was a wartime organization of approximately 185 engineers and technicians working on a top secret radio and mechanical equipment.
Historical: Aero Industries Corp. (1945-1946) Alan L. Patterson organized Aero Industries Corp. in New Haven, Connecticut and took over the U.S. Air Force facility at the airport. The corporation established a maintenance base for converting surplus war planes from four engine transport to small trainers. It disbanded after war surplus became too costly.
Historical: Allied International Company (1945-1975) Allied International Company functioned out of New York, New York where Alan L. Patterson was the sole owner and proprietor. The company dealt in export and import of general commodities, raw materials, and heavy industry units, automotive, aeronautical and electrical and mechanical equipment.
Historical: Airservices Company Ltd. (1960-1975) Alan L. Patterson established Airservices Company Ltd. in Hong Kong, China to continue similar operations to his pre-World War II business, China Airmotive Company. The company sold aeronautical equipment, provided services and technical assistance, and made sales all throughout Asia.


The Alan Lonsdale “Pat” Patterson Papers is arranged into four series: Series I. Professional; Series II. Personal; Series III. Visual Materials; and Series IV. Biographical Materials . The groupings were established by the Processing Archivist who inferred from the documents in the collection the main themes that correlated to the folder titles assigned by ALP. The folder titles were retained when possible and are noted in the inventory with quotation marks but there have been many updates to the file names for clarification and structure of contents.

The series have been broken down further into subseries, and at times an additional level within the hierarchy was necessary for a cohesive organizational structure. For instance, the Professional series has been arranged chronologically by the date that each of the companies were established by ALP. Then the series were broken down into business records, correspondence and general company documents. The business records were then grouped by company transactions whether contracts, loans or orders. When the company didn’t warrant any additional subseries due to quantity of materials the files were arranged alphabetically.

Initially, much of the materials in the Personal series were not in a meaningful arrangement so the Processing Archivist imposed a substantial amount of order to develop a researchable system. The files are organized first by documents related to ALP, such as identification and financial records, as well as club memberships. The documents are followed by correspondence that has been arranged chronologically and lastly materials that ALP collected throughout his years, such as clippings, postcards, travel ephemera, and various publications.

The Visual and Audio Visual Materials series has been organized by format. The photographs in the series were donated with some order and included folder titles, although there was a substantial amount of duplication and photographs grouped in folders with varying titles. The Processing Archivist collocated like photographs where possible and arranged the files into a meaningful order. Negatives have been separated from the print files and housed in cold storage for preservation purposes.

The final series, Biographical Materials, has been broken down into the biographer’s correspondence, notes and research materials that they generated during their writing process. While much of the materials within this series were not created by ALP there are documents that date to back his lifetime that have been integrated into the folders by the author. Those materials have been retained with the biographical materials to maintain context rather than moving them into the Professional or Personal subseries.

The majority of the collection consists of papers and photographs housed in document boxes, however there are a couple oversize boxes and folders that contain a large amount of newspaper clippings, some of which are fragile and have not been reformatted.

Custodial History

The collection was donated by Richard J. Latham. He was a friend of Patterson's who had acquired the collection directly from Patterson while working on a biography of ALP. When Latham realized he would not complete the biography, he donated the collection to the Museum.


No further accruals are expected.

Separated Materials

The following book has been separated from the archival component of this collection and is kept in the Library:
  • Annual Pictorial Magazine of the Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force Association, 1986.
  • Wings Club Year Book 1944-1947. New York.
  • Picture Record of Japanese Savagery
  • The Guam Eagle. Guam: Associated Press, United Press, and the Pacific Cable, 1939.
  • Ryan STM Military Training Planes. California: Ryan Aeronautical Company.
  • Model V-156, Two-Place Scout Dive Bomber. Connecticut: Chance Vought Aircraft, Division of United Aircraft Corporation, 1937.
  • Gatty, Harold. The Raft Book Lore of the Sea and Sky. New York: George Grady Press, 1943.
  • Hell’s Angels.

The following items have been separated from the archival component of this collection and are kept in Objects storage:

  • Silk samples, license plate, gun, button, chain and two Allied Engineering Corporation business name plates.

Please contact us for more details.
Guide to the Alan Lonsdale Patterson Papers
A. Matthews and C. Dinges
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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