Interview With Pilot Mike Patey


A Passion for Aviation Lands Mike Patey Smack in the Middle of Turbulence

When Mike Patey and his twin Mark were 15 years old they put their restless natures together and launched a business building decks for their neighbours in Orem, Utah. By the time they had graduated from high school four years later, their deck-building company had nearly 200 employees. That drive to create, to build, to achieve and succeed has largely defined their lives.  Today, both are successful entrepreneurs and skilled pilots with a passion for aviation that’s larger than life. 


Weird Twin Moment

When the twins were in their late 20s, nearly two decades ago, Mike accompanied his father-in-law to an airshow in California. On that same day, Mark decided to visit the local Provo Utah airport. With no knowledge of what the other was up to, they came to the decision individually but at the exact same time – “let's get our pilot’s license”.  When they shared their decisions by telephone the same day they were awed by the route that twin-based fate had dictated for them. Mark was so taken by the coincidence that he bought a used Cessna 172 aircraft on the spot.  Nearly 20 years later, they co-own and fly seven aircraft including a selection of propeller-driven airplanes, a small business jet (an Eclipse, powered by P&WC PW600 engines) and a helicopter. They are best friends, business partners, each other’s personal support system and devoted family men.

Mike uses aviation to empower his business. 

“Aviation is a tremendous enabler for me and my business activities. I can have five meetings in five states in a single day and be back home in time for supper.” 

The brothers co-own each other’s businesses. Mark has a company, BestTugs, that builds tugs to move aircraft around at airports. Mike’s firm is in the petroleum business.


Family and Community

Mike’s view on the powers of aviation and community involvement are driven by childhood lessons taught by his parents who had 11 eleven children.

“Our parents taught us that if you are blessed with a talent or finances you must give to others or you don’t deserve it in the first place. We were raised dirt poor but our parents gave anything we had in excess to someone who had less than us.” Weekdays will often find the brothers flying their helicopter on search and rescue missions with local authorities along the Rocky Mountain Range, donating their time, their helicopter and personally covering all expenses. They are familiar and enthusiastic faces at charity events all around Utah.

Mike says of his wife and four children: “My family is the most important thing in my life, but aviation is a very, very close second place. I tell my kids that nothing is free, you succeed through your hard work.”


Competition is in His Blood

Back in 2011, the Patey brothers took off from San Diego, California, in their home-built aircraft and flew side-by-side, landing to refuel in Brownwood, Texas. Mike then flew from Brownwood to Charleston, West Virginia, and set the northern route transcontinental record. Mark flew to Jacksonville, Florida to set the southern route record. Just last year, Mike set the world record for average speed in a single-engine turboprop plane – his unique, PT6A-powered “Turbulence” (see box below). The record was 438.02 miles per hour – what Mike calls ‘smokin.’

“From drag cars to hill climbs, I have always been driven to race things. I like to build bigger, stronger and faster aircraft. I like to say that you don’t have to be in the U.S. military to beat the U.S. military – I have set records that were previously held by the U.S. government.”

Mike’s an open book when it comes to sharing his aviation genius with others. He tells his competitors exactly how he modifies his aircraft to eke out better performance. “If someone beats me, then that’s great and it’s game on. It means that I’ll come back next year in an attempt to win the title back with better aircraft performance.”

Taking Risks Wisely

The risks he takes in setting aviation records are not lost on Mike and he says he’s had his fair share of piston-engine failures “I do take risks, but they are educated risks not foolhardy ones. It’s not courage that allows me to take risks, it is knowledge.” He’s prudent – he doesn’t fly piston engines over the mountains at night and avoids bad weather.

Mike and Mark live near one another and see each other virtually every day – where else but at the local airport.  “We consider ourselves to be the luckiest guys ever. It’s great to always have your biggest fan and supporter standing next to you to cheer you on.”

A Little Turbulence Goes a Long Way

Mike Patey’s favourite airplane at the moment is his highly modified Lancair Legacy kit he has dubbed ‘Turbulence’. Powered by an 850 shp PT6A-42 engine, the plane has ‘smokin’ performance:

· Top speed recorded - 438.02 mph

· Climb rate is 7,000 feet per minute.

· 175-gallon fuel capacity gives Turbulence a 1,600-nautical-mile range at 375 KTAS.

· He re-designed/re-built 85 – 90 % of the now distinctive aircraft.

· Turbulence weighs 1,900 lbs and is made of 100% carbon fibre materials.