As a toddler, he played in a B-29 waist dome in his backyard. His first words were about airplanes and carburetors. Growing up, he spent hours in the library leafing through aircraft books when he should have been tending to his school studies. It ran in the family. While his father was serving in the Pacific during WW-II, Patrick Dean's maternal grandmother was a riveter at Firestone constructing wings for Consolidated PBY’s His maternal grandmother worked at the Bell Bomber Plant where B-29s were being built.
He was so inspired by large aircraft he joined the U. S. Air Force in the 1960s becoming a line mechanic, a Crew Chief, and working transient maintenance. Patrick served on C-124s, C-97s, and T-28s. He developed a solid knowledge of multi-engine heavy-lift aircraft. He prides himself on having been present for the roll-out of the Lockheed C-5A. While stationed in England, he saw for the first time an Aviation Traders ATL-98 Carvair. Seeing the DC-4 conversion at that time later evolved into the book The ATL-98 Carvair which relates the fleet history.
Just a few years ago, a chance meeting resulted in an introduction to Jack Conroy’s daughter and widow, who both generously granted access to the files and photos of Aero Spacelines. This access allowed Patrick to write Ultra-Large Aircraft 1940 – 1970 which traces early large cargo aircraft development, expanded fuselage designs, and the building of the B-377 series of Super Guppy aircraft. Patrick is currently at work on a second volume spanning from 1970 – 2020.
Today, Patrick Dean is frequently referred to as a “forensic aviation writer” because he is an intense researcher of the fine minutia of what it takes to build these one-of-a-kind giants. Now, William Patrick Dean is a member of the American Aviation Society. He is semi-retired in Henderson, Nevada.
During his time at United, he also owned a service station outside Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. On occasion, Wernher von Braun serviced his automobile there. The Aero Spacelines B377 Guppies were frequent visitors to Redstone Field and could often be seen landing and departing. This was instrumental in Patrick developing an intense interest in volumetric outsize transports. Working at an airfield every day for more than 40 years inspired him to write freelance articles for many aviation magazines.
Later in life, Patrick met Reid Dennis, who built the quintessential luxury SA-16 Albatross and flew it around the world to retrace the flight of Amelia Earhart. Reid’s influence inspired many articles on the civilian conversions of these Grumman amphibians.
© Copyright 2021 William Patrick Dean. All photos and content are property of William Patrick Dean, unless otherwise stated.