From the Hangars

Donation Spotlight: L.D. "Pat" Carlson

Oct 17, 2022


L.D. "Pat" Carlson began his aviation career barnstorming in Nebraska in 1927. By January 1930, he had moved west to Los Angeles and taken a job as a co-pilot with Standard Airlines.  

img050Western Airlines aircraft parked at Alhambra Airport in 1930. From left to right: Fokker F-10, Fokker F-14, Boeing 40 B4, Boeing 95, Douglas M-2, and Stearman 4-D.

In his first professional route he flew L.A. to El Paso in a Fokker Trimotor, and continued that route when Western Air Express acquired Standard Airlines in May of 1930.


Western Air Express "10th Anniversary" April 17th, 1936, Burbank Calif. L.D. Carlson stands third from the right in the back row.

After the acquisition of Standard Airlines, Carlson became the ninth pilot  flying for Western Air Express. In June of 1930 he was moved to one of their primary mail and passenger routes, L.A. to Salt Lake City, and remained on that route until 1942 and his next big Aviation adventure. 


In July of 1942, Carlson was transferred north of the border to Edmonton, Alberta. In Canada he served as Western's Superintendent of the Military Cargo Division for the duration of World War 2. In conjunction with the Alaskan Division of the Air Transport Command (ATC) Carlson led the ferrying of aircraft from Great Falls, Montana all the way to Nome, Alaska by way of Edmonton, Fort Nelson, White Horse, and Fairbanks. 

Carlson was able to capture some amazing photos of his time there as seen below.  


(Captioned: Alaska Range just South of Tanacross)


(Captioned: Dog Team Races Fairbanks, 1944)


But photos are not the only thing Carlson came home with...after the war concluded he was awarded the Medal of Freedom. The medal was established by President Harry Truman to honor civilians whose actions aided in the war efforts of the United States and its allies. 


L.D. Carlson's Medal of Freedom

After the war Pat Carlson returned home to Burbank, California and continued flying for Western Airlines. He was briefly handed a desk job for the airline in Denver but just couldn't stay out of the sky. He returned to flying the line and continued until his retirement in 1963. 


Many thanks to L.D. Carlson's daughter Patty Shay, who donated a wonderful collection of items from his career to the Delta Flight Museum. We appreciate your generous gift! It helps preserve both his aviation legacy and the history of the Delta Family tree.

Thank you so much for the donation!


Austin Vallejos-Coleman



Leave a comment
  1. Kabir | Jul 28, 2023
    Thanks for helping out. Lovely post.
  2. Jim Daigneau | Oct 28, 2022
    What a great post, Austin!  Two importsnt things come to mind.  1. That Captain Pat had such a long, intersting and successful career…and kept recpords and pictures.  And, 2., that Patty offered it to the museum for preservation.  Thanks to both of you for posting a wonderful story!
  3. Patty Shay | Oct 18, 2022

    Thank you so much Austin.  Its comforting to know that dad has not been forgotten.  I had no idea that he donated his equipment from the war.  He was a very strict father of 2 daughters.  I have loved him more and more in later life.


    Many thanks for your help,

    Patty Shay

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