LANCASTER, Calif. -- Lawrence Hyland, an aviation pioneer who guided Hughes Aircraft Co. from a modest-sized maker of airborne fire control systems to a major defense contractor, died Friday.
He was 92.
Hyland died of a heart attack at Antelope Valley Hospital where he had been admitted earlier in the week, the company said. He was at Hughes Aircraft for 25 years.
Holding the title of chairman emeritus since his retirement in 1984, 'Pat' Hyland was chief executive officer of Hughes with the title of vice president and chairman of the board after the death of company founder Howard Hughes in 1976.
Hyland held some of the earliest patents in the fields of aircraft communications, direction finding and radar. Many of his developments became part of popular aircraft electronics systems. An invention of his is linked to the foundation of modern radar.
Born in Nova Scotia in 1897, Hyland emigrated to the United States at 2.
In 1919, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen and was a chief radioman in the Navy for six years. He was apart of a team that demonstrated a blind landing system for flying boats.
In 1926, Hyland joined the Naval Research Laboratory as a radio engineer, developing a device that allowed airplanes to communicate with ground systems for the first time.
He observed and demonstrated the reflection of radio waves from aircraft in World War II, a technique considered to be a cornerstone of modern radar. Hyland was awarded the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1950.
Hyland founded and headed Radio Research Co. before it merged into Bendix Corp. in 1937. He spent 17 years with Bendix, advancing to vice president in charge of engineering before joining Hughes in 1954.
At Hughes, Hyland served on the Department of Defense committees on guided missiles and missile-range planning and air defense and man-in-space panels of the President's Scientific Advisory Committee.
He also was chairman of the strategic weapons committee of the CIA for 12 years.
Hyland received numerous awards, including the 1968 Robert J. Collier Trophy from the U.S. National Aeronautic Association for Hughes's Surveyor, whichsoft-landed the first vehicle on the moon.
In 1969, he received an award from the Emperor of Japan for scientific and industrial contributions. The only other American to receive the award was George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, in 1920.
Hyland is survived by his wife, Muriel, and his daughter, Ginger.