PATCO, the Patterson Aircraft Company in 1980


The PATCO Avionics Shop in 1980

Patterson Aircraft Company

Sacramento Ca.


Visit the New Computer Products and Parts Store, The Best s on the Web


These are some of the guys at the Patco Avionics shop back in 1980. 

Our job was to repair and maintain mostly, corporate twins and high performance single engine aircraft.  This one of the best group of people that I have ever met and have worked with.  

Lew Brown was the Boss and instead of bossing you around, he was there to be a true leader and help you get your job done.  He made life easier for everyone.  

Ron Hitchcock worked on all kinds of avionics but specialized in autopilot repair.  I have never met an electronics technician that was sharper and more knowledgeable than Ron.  He was also a very nice person to work with.

Gurdon Smith was the installer.  I thought his job was easy until he went on vacation and I had to install a complete avionics package.  Gurdon had all of the panels already cut out so all I had to do was hook up the wires.  What a nightmare.   Gurdon Smith was real sharp and did some of the most beautiful installation jobs that I've ever seen.

Phil Simpson was one of the nicest persons that you could think of.  Just like the rest of the crew he was sharp, and easy to get along with.  If you ever needed a good friend, Phil was one of the best.

Tom Tannehill was into computers.  This was before the home computer came on the market.  He was a super sharp person in all respects.  His knowledge of electronics was extensive and he was able to figure out any problem with relative ease.  Tom was also one of the nicest persons that you could ever meet.  He had a son, about six years old at that time that looked exactly like him.  It was great to see his son walk into the avionics shop and straight arm the door and say is TJ here.  That was Tom's name, T. J. Tannehill.

I had one complaint at Patco. 
There was nothing to complain about.


Jeff Dyrek Avionics Technician at PatcoLew Brown, Director of Maintenance at Patco.Ron Hitchcock, Lead Autopilot Technician at Patco.
  Jeff Dyrek   Lew Brown  Ron Hitchcock 


Here to See Ron Hitchcock's new site at Executive Autopilots

Gurdon Smith, Avionics Installer at Patco.Our Work benches at Patco before our new avionics shop was builtPhil Simpson, Avionics tech at Patco
Gurdon Smith       Our Workbenches    Ron Hitchcock Phil Simpson

Tom Tannehill, avionics technician at PatcoRon Hitchcock and his autopilot bench
Phil Simpson  Tom Tannehill      Ron Hitchcock

Glen Renolds, Avionics installer and mechanic at Patco
    Tom Tannehill     Phil Simpson      Glen Renolds

Click Here's a trailer about a great flight in print, not a video.

I first started working at Patterson Aircraft Company.  We had the new Bendix, all digital, avionics system and my boss wanted to look at it and have all of avionics techs to see it in operation.  We took off from Sacramento just after work at about five P.M.  There was an over cast and a light rain.  It was in Feb or Mar and we were flying a brand new Cessna 421 Golden Eagle twin. As we climbed, we could see all of the streets of Sacramento and the cars lights as they were going home in the rush hour.  As we still climbed, we could see the rain pealing off of the windshield.  The digital instruments included a digital VOR indicator instead of the mechanical needles that are in most airplanes.  They were fantastic and extremely visible. 
We climbed closer and closer to the overcast clouds.  The cities lights were reflecting off the clouds making them lighter than the sky all around us.  Just under the clouds, we had the feeling that the clouds were the ground.  It looked just as if we were flying upside down only a few feet above the ground. 
Suddenly, we were inside the clouds and the outside view was instantly pitch black with absolutely zero visibility.  We continued to climb through the unknown and suddenly came out on top.  The sun was just setting and there were huge pillars of clouds on top where the bottom was totally flat.  These pillars glowed beautifully with bright red, orange and yellows.  We were headed toward the Lake Tahoe area and Pyramid Peak at 9998 feet stuck out of the top of the clouds illuminated also by the beautiful colors of the setting sun.  The view was just fantastic and I have never seen any view quite like this one.  I wish that I had my camera system because it would have been a prize winning video. 
We flew up over the Sierra Nevada mountain range then headed back.  All I can say is this one of the most fantastic flights that I have ever been on.  Sitting in front in the Golden Eagle cockpit is an experience in itself.  The Bendix BX-2000 avionics worked perfectly and made the visibility much better than the standard mechanical indicators.  Everything was just fantastic and I loved it and will remember the flight for the rest of my life.

2003 North Pole Expedition.

Exhibit Added 5-28-2003

The North Pole Expedition of 2003 was a fantastic event with the first Free, Unassisted, Scuba dive under the Ice, the worlds first Marathon Competition and the largest expedition group ever to go to the pole.  There was also the NASA EM-31 Project testing ice thickness and the new sensing technologies.  All in all, it was fantastic and you can see the photos here. 

This Exhibit is functional but many parts are still being added.

2002 North Pole Adventure

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