Circumstances of Death
Agent James Patterson and three employees from Texas Instruments were working on a government sponsored infrared airborne surveillance project. The project's goal was to identify the location of illicit distilleries along the Gulf Coast areas of Alabama and Mississippi from an airplane.
After conducting a reconnaissance flight, the plane was on final approach to the Mobile, Alabama Municipal Airport when it suddenly veered sharply to the left and downward, impacting with the ground. The plane was quickly consumed by fire. Agent Patterson, pilot Franklin Creed and technician Duane Robinson were killed. Stephen Terry, another technician, survived.
Agent Patterson entered on duty with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division (ATTD) on July 31, 1967. Previously, he worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service as a patrol inspector. Agent Patterson was a licensed civilian pilot and proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956.
Agent Patterson was born in Buena Vista, Georgia. He was survived by his wife Joan, and their two sons, Jon and Jay.