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1965 Horatio Alger Award Winner

William A. Patterson*

United Airlines

"If the first thing you try doesn't work out, don't be afraid to try something else."

William Allan Patterson, chairman of the board and CEO of United Airlines, was a central figure in the air transport industry and the Jet Age. He started as an office boy with Wells Fargo Bank. As a teller, he became familiar with the financial structure of pioneer airlines. He left banking in 1929 and went to Seattle as assistant to the president of Boeing Airplane Company and Boeing Air Transport. Boeing Air Transport was one of four airlines that merged in 1931, to form a transcontinental system¾United Airlines. Patterson went to Chicago in 1931 as United’s general manager. Two years later, he became a vice president and on April 13, 1934, he was elected president. The company at that time employed 1,000 people on a 2,600-mile system. In 1963, when Paterson was elected board chairman and CEO, United Airlines had more than 30,000 employees on its 18,000 mile-system. * Deceased