During the Great Depression Patterson's father had to drop out of high school and take a job to support his family. Because of a lack of high school education Mark's father was not accepted into the US Air Corps. But, he became a fighter pilot and flew with the RAF in WW2 in the battle of Britain. He trained American fighter pilots in Oklahoma. He owned two airplanes and had almost 3,000 hours in his own planes. After the war Mark's father continued to fly; he was promoted to officer and command pilot. He did 26 years in the Air Force and retired as a Major. Mark was in the Civil Air Patrol as a kid, but he was unable to serve because of his hearing loss. Mark lost 70% of his hearing when he was 4 years old, because his eardrums were burst by tonsillitis.