Aerospace industry executive Lawrence A. (Pat) Hyland, who headed Hughes Aircraft Co. for nearly a quarter of a century, died Friday of a heart attack at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster.
Hyland, 92, retired from the Los Angeles-based company in 1984, but he had remained active in the firm's affairs, serving as chairman emeritus and coming to his office at headquarters several times a week.
"Pat Hyland was one of the giants of our industry," said Malcolm R. Currie, chairman and chief executive officer of Hughes. "His vision and leadership were an inspiration to us all, and he will be sorely missed."
Known as a vigorous, practical man with what one friend called "immense common sense," Hyland is credited with leading Hughes to a pre-eminent position as a supplier of defense electronics and communications satellites.
Although he lacked formal college training, Hyland nevertheless was an inventor, holding early patents in aircraft communications, direction finding and radar. As a radio engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory in 1932, he demonstrated the reflection of radio waves from aircraft--credited as a basic discovery in the development of modern radar.
For his work, he was awarded the U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1950.
Born in Nova Scotia, he came to the United States at age 2, graduated from high school in Melrose, Mass., in 1915, served in the Army during World War I, and became a naturalized citizen in 1919. He was a chief radioman in the U.S. Navy from 1920 to 1926.
Hyland formed Radio Research Co. of Washington and headed the firm for five years before the company merged with Bendix Corp. in 1937. He worked for Bendix for 17 years.
Hyland joined Hughes as vice president and general manager in 1954, serving for 24 years in those posts before becoming president of the company after the death of Howard Hughes in April, 1976.
In his years at Hughes, Hyland was active in helping guide defense policy, serving on the advisory committee of the Argonne National Nuclear Laboratory, for example. He was also chairman of the Central Intelligence Agency's strategic advisory committee for 12 years.
Hyland, who received an honorary doctorate in engineering in 1954 from Lawrence Institute of Technology in Southfield, Mich., also served as a trustee of Harvey Mudd College and the California Museum of Science and Industry.
Because of his interest in quarter horse racing, Hyland served as a director or officer of several quarter horse associations. In 1981, the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Assn. honored him as horseman of the year.
Hyland is survived by his widow, Muriel, and a daughter, Ginger.
A memorial service was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday at Westwood Methodist Church in Los Angeles.