Reuben Hollis Fleet
||16 Fleet, Reuben Hollis Born: 6 MAR 1887 Montesano, Washington Died: 29 October 1975 San Diego, San Diego Co., California He was buried on 22 Nov 1975 in Aviation Hall of Fame, Dayton, OH. He had Social Security Number 564-03-8946. In 1961, Reuben Hollis Fleet was a founder and first president of Aerospace Museum in San Diego, Califorina.|
SPOUSE 1: Elizabeth Girton April 29, 1908; divorced 1920
Spouse 2; Dorothy Mitchell 1931 divorced 1944
Spouse 3; Eva May VanDenburgh marriage; May 20, 1947 who has three children: Sally Ann, Sandra Lee, and Susan Kay
Reuben Hollis is a very prosperous civil engineer & property owner.
1902-1905 - Attends Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, which his uncle, Col. Alexander Frederick Fleet founded after serving in the Confederate Army. At the time, Culver was considered one of the six most distinguished private military academies in the country. While at Culver, Reuben becomes the editor-in-chief of the school paper, the "Vedette" and also it's business manager, putting the paper on a self-supporting basis. He also was the captain of the debating team. A solidly built six footer, Reuben played fullback on the football team as well as the center on the basketball team. Culver provided the equivalent of an associate degree
1905 - Reuben becomes a Christian after attending a religious conference with some of the best speakers in the country in Lake Geneva, WI.
1906 - Reuben becomes a school-teacher in Montesano, Washington. Later that year, he began working for his father in the timber business.
March 6, 1907 - Reuben begins a career in Real Estate. in 1907 Fleet returned home where he took the state teachers examination and began teaching all grades from first through eighth. After a number of months Fleet set himself up as a Realtor and resigned from teaching. It was also during this time that Fleet joined the Washington National Guard, as Captain.
1908,and they settled in Montesano. Afterward, with a loan from Montesano State Bank for $1500, Fleet began investing in local real estate, which would eventually culminate in Fleet owning large tracts of timberland which he would subdivide and parcel out, often for railroad right-of-way or logging, for substantial profit.
1911 – March - Sent to San Diego with the National Guard. Fleet, a Captain of a National Guard company, was ordered with his men to quell a civil disturbance organized by the Industrial Workers of the World, a militant labor organization. Later, from April through May Fleet and three other officers were assigned to San Diego, California to keep track of the agitators who had moved south from Washington and Oregon, heading to Mexico.
1914 - After riding in a flying boat out of Seattle, Reuben became an aviation enthusiast.
1915 - Reuben wins election as a Washington State Representative from the 29th district. Made Chairman of the Military Affairs
Committee of the House. Some colleagues said that if he would fly around the Capitol building for half an hour, they would support any bill that he would bring in to help aviation. After "The Daily Olympian" reported that he had 'taken a spin in a hydro-aeroplane around the flagpole of the capitol and some of Olympia's other skyscrapers,'
Reuben introduced a bill to appropriate $250,000 for aviation with the Washington State National Guard. This is more than the Federal government had allocated for national aviation.
||March 22, 1917 - he closed his office in March 1917 and reported to the training facility of the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, United States Army, in San Diego. Commissioned in the Army as a Major, Fleet graduated in July Junior Military Aviator No. 74. He was then assigned as acting commanding officer of the 18th Aero Squadron, Training. Upon receiving his pilots wings as military aviator No. 74, Capt. Reuben Fleet was assigned to Air Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to plan and supervise aircrew training.|
1918 - Served as the Executive officer in charge of flying training for the United States Army. And was also was tasked with setting up the first air mail between New York and Washington D.C on 15 May it was organized., the Aerial Mail Service being jointly operated by the Departments of War and Post Office. Fleet was appointed Officer-in-Charge of the Aerial Mail Service
1918 - Becomes a fully qualified Balloon Pilot by accident 1918 Graduated from the Gosport Advanced School of Flying Instructors in England.
1919 was reassigned to the U.S. Army Flight Test Center at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio as business manager. Reuben Fleet was in charge of the development of new airplanes at the Army engineering division at McCook Field.
In 1921, while he was stationed at the Army Engineering Division at McCook Field, he took up a new plane. "It was," recalls Fleet, "the first American monoplane we had.
Fleet was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service at McCook Field. With post-war budgets slashed and commissioned officers being reduced one rank Fleet felt he'd gone as far as he could in military aviation.
On 30 November 1922, Thanksgiving Day, Fleet, his superior officer and the chief of the Power Plant Section announced to the press that they were resigning - leaving the military service in late 1922 to begin his distinguished career as an aviation industrialist. Joined the Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation as Vice President and General Manager. Acquiring the assets and engineering talents of Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation and the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company, he combined the two into a new firm, Consolidated Aircraft in 1923
May 29, 1923 Consolidated Aircraft Corporation came into being. Consolidated began making training airplanes. TW-3 "Camel" Trainer (20) PT-1 "Trusty" Trainer (240)
September 22, 1924 Consolidated Aircraft moved to Buffalo, New York. 1925 NY-1 "Husky" Trainer (66) 1928 PT-3 "Trusty" Trainer (177) NY-2 & NY-3 "Husky" Trainer (133)
PT-3A "Trusty" Trainer (50) Army bought them for $1 each.
September 13, 1929 On Friday the 13th, Reuben and his secretary, Lauretta Lederer, who he was planning to marry, are in an airplane crash while returning from a business trip. Lauretta dies and the doctors say that there wasn't a bone in Reuben's body in the right place.
1931 Reuben marries Dorothy Mitchell. She was married to Reuben during most of WWII.
October 20, 1935 San Diego ceases to be "just another Navy town" and a haven for retired folks after Consolidated Aircraft is moved there. Reuben Fleet purchases Lindberg Field for $1,000,000
In late 1941 this captain of industry, one of the last of the industrial tycoons who built and led their own large
corporations, retired from active management of Consolidated . In November, 1941 Fleet elected to sell a
majority of his shares in Consolidated to Vultee Aircraft. He continued on in the role of adviser and consultant
for five more years.
In August 1946, Fleet and his sister, Lillian, bought a parcel of land in Montesano and donated it to the city for use as a park named in honor of their parents. The city subsequently renamed Second Street to Fleet Street in their honor
Fleet founded the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences and served on the California State Highway Commission.
Invested 1965 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame
In the early 1970s, Fleet largely funded construction of The Bishop Center for Performing Arts at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington, in honor of E. K. "Ned" and Lillian Fleet Bishop.
He attended public schools in Montesano, and at 15, Fleet attended Culver Military Academy where his uncle, Alexander Fleet, was superintendent. Enrolled at Culver, Fleet was an excellent student but was handicapped by the fact that his uncle was superintendent. He spent his fourth and final year at the academy as the editor-in-chief of the cadet newspaper, the C.M.A. Vedette. Culver provided the equivalent of an associate degree, and after his graduation in 1906 Fleet intended to continue his education at Stanford University.
Deciding against going to Stanford immediately, in 1907 Fleet returned home where he took the state teachers examination and began teaching all grades from first through eighth. After a number of months Fleet set himself up as a realtor and resigned from teaching. It was also during this time that Fleet joined the Washington National Guard, as Captain.
Deciding against going to Stanford immediately, in 1907 Fleet returned home where he took the state teachers examination and began teaching all grades from first through eighth. Also beciming involved in his family timber and real estate businesses After a number of months Fleet set himself up as a realtor and resigned from teaching. It was also during this time that Fleet joined the Washington National Guard, as Captain.
In 1908, with a loan from Montesano State Bank for $1500, Fleet began investing in local real estate, which would eventually culminate in Fleet owning large tracts of timberland which he would subdivide and parcel out, often for railroad right-of-way or logging, for substantial profit.
In March, 1911, Fleet, a Captain of a National Guard company, was ordered with his men to quell a civil disturbance organized by the Industrial Workers of the World, a militant labor organization. Later, from April through May Fleet and three other officers were assigned to San Diego, California to keep track of the agitators who had moved south from Washington and Oregon, heading to Mexico. So impressed was Fleet with San Diego and its climate that he told himself that he would arrange to have his business in San Diego if he could. The promise was kept 24 years later when he relocated the Consolidated plant to San Diego from Buffalo, New York.
Fleet also became a civic leader, and was elected to the state legislature in 1915, its youngest member. During this period, he became more and more interested and involved in aviation. His formal introduction came when he was selected for aviation training, reporting to the Army’s Rockwell Field, at North Island, Coronado.
Anticipating the entry of the United States into World War I Fleet closed his office in March 1917 and reported to the training facility of the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, United States Army, in San Diego. He earned Junior Military Aviator (JMA) wings Number 74 in 1917 at North Island, soon after receiving a commission as a major in the Army Signal Corps. He was assigned to a position in Washington, D.C., where he directed aviation training. He was then assigned as acting commanding officer of the 18th Aero Squadron, Training.
During the war in Europe Fleet was the Executive Officer for Flying Training, Signal Corps Aviation Section, stationed in Washington, D.C. with temporary duty in England. His commanding officer was Colonel 'Hap' Arnold.
On 12 days notice, the War Department in 1918, at President Wilson’s behest, announced it would start Air Mail service between Washington and New York. On Colonel Henry “Hap” Arnold’s recommendation, Fleet was placed in charge. In only eight days, Curtiss Jenny training planes coming off the production line were modified under Fleet’s direction to carry the mail. One day before the start of service only two planes were ready but Major Fleet worked out the problems, including the unauthorized felling of a tree in the middle of Potomac Park, Washington, the southern terminal. The U.S. Air Mail officially began service on March 15th, 1918. Because British training planes and instruction methods appeared to be better than those of the U.S., Fleet obtained orders for himself and Arnold to go abroad.
He was then transferred to England, where he graduated from the flying instructor school at Gosport. With Arnold seriously ill with influenza Fleet took over command of 8,500 troops aboard the S. S. Olympic. Ashore after arrival in England, Arnold, in an ambulance, heard marching troops and described how “It was Major Fleet marching his Chaplains and Air Service officers in the rain, in the dark. ‘One, two, three, four! Damn you Chaplains, keep in step.’ It was twelve miles to go but Fleet, ” said Arnold, “was making soldiers of them.” At the Gosport School for flying near Southampton, Fleet learned how the British turned out superb pilots and training planes. On November 11th — Armistice Day — Fleet was the only sober pilot at Gosport. He borrowed the commanding officer’s plane to fly to London and describes how, “I took off with Parker and his Adjutant both standing up in the open rear cockpit with their arms around each other. By the time we landed at London they were fairly well sobered up.” In London, Reuben had a taxi driver take him to Fleet Street and the Fleet River — both named for his ancestors
In May 1918 Fleet was tasked with setting up the first scheduled U. S. Air Mail between New York and Washington D.C., the Aerial Mail Service being jointly operated by the Department of War and U.S. Post Office Department. Fleet was appointed Officer-in-Charge of the Aerial Mail Service in addition to his duties as Executive Officer for Flying Training. After initial successes were marred by several deaths, Fleet successfully petitioned President Wilson personally to suspend the expansion of the air mail service to Boston until better equipment and facilities were created.
Fleet's next assignment was as the Army Air Service's chief aviation contracting officer and was also business manager, part of the Engineering Division, based at McCook Field. When Fleet arrived at Dayton from Washington in January 1919 everything was in a turmoil as wartime dollar-a-year executives left to return to their regular peacetime jobs, many of them with the automobile industry. Supervising hundreds of contracts and thousands of employees, Fleet placed McCook Field and Army procurement back on a business-like status
Also while at McCook he played key roles in the development of the turbocharger for aero applications and the testing of a number of other aviation innovations, including the Loening PW-2A, the first American pursuit monoplane, and the de Bothezat helicopter. Although not expected to do any test flying, Reuben could not resist climbing into the cockpit of test planes, especially if any equipment for which he had contracted was involved and perform some of the flight testing himself.
Fleet was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service at McCook Field. With post-war budgets slashed and commissioned officers being reduced one rank Fleet felt he'd gone as far as he could in military aviation. On 30 November 1922, Thanksgiving Day, Fleet, his superior officer and the chief of the Power Plant Section announced to the press that they were resigning
After four years service at McCook Field, and with the post-World War II decline in procurement, Fleet decided that it was time to return to private business. Also, he was disappointed that his procurement responsibilities had prevented his ability to personally develop a new military training plane — a cherished goal that he had held ever since he learned to fly at Rockwell Field in San Diego in 1917.
Thus he resigned from Army service in 1922, joining Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation as general manager. Fleet arranged the merger between Gallaudet Aircraft Company and Dayton-Wright Company to create his own company, Consolidated, in 1923; purchasing the training airplane designs of Dayton-Wright from General Motors, and renting the Gallaudet factory in Rhode Island.
He hired Isaac Machlin Laddon, who had been in charge of design of heavy aircraft at McCook Field. One of his first goals was to secure the contract to design a twin-engine night bomber for the Army. Teaming with Sikorsky, they failed to win the competition with their S-37 design. Consolidated then went on to a long line of successful designs and lucrative contracts for seaplanes for the Navy. Starting with their XPY-1 of 1928, the company's string of successes culminated in one of the most numerous and successful seaplanes, the Consolidated PBY Catalina.
In 1924, he moved to Buffalo, New York, leasing quarters in the government-built Curtiss plant. He purchased Thomas Morse Aircraft, and moved it to Buffalo, also purchasing the Hall Aluminum Aircraft Company.
Exploiting Fleet's experience in Army flight training, Consolidated produced a popular military training aircraft, the PT-11 (Consolidated Model 21) primary/advanced trainer. Leading Consolidated, Fleet founded or acquired a number of subsidiaries, including Fleet Aircraft to market civilian designs, Tonawanda Products Corporation to supply components, and Hall-Aluminum Aircraft Corporation. Among the companies acquired by Fleet during time was the Thomas-Morse Aircraft which was failing yet had outstanding contracts to deliver. Fleet selected San Diego, California to relocate Consolidated from Buffalo, New York, where winter weather restricted seaplane operations.
He moved his growing company to San Diego, California in 1935 was one of the greatest industrial relocations in history, the company’s business since its founding 12 years earlier — had totaled $20 million.
In San Diego, Consolidated Aircraft Corporation became the world leader in building military training planes, also building seaplanes in larger numbers than all other flying boat manufacturers combined. His landplane bombers for World War II were built in greater quantity than any other aircraft ever produced.
Three weeks in November, 1941 before Pearl Harbor Reuben H . Fleet elected to sell a majority of his shares in Consolidated to Vultee Aircraft. Resaon being - With the impetus of World War II, annual sales rose to $100 million for 1941, and the backlog of unfilled orders was $750 million. The problem was that President Franklin D. Roosevelt (an old friend), as a wartime measure had taken the profit out of defense production. Fleet’s profit for the year 1941 would keep the plant open for only 6.5 minutes! Reuben decided to sell. He didn’t know that the Pearl Harbor attack was coming. Three weeks before that fateful date he received $10 million for 34% of Consolidated’s stock. Reuben “retired” from active Consolidated management at the end of 1941, but refused to take retirement seriously. He stayed on as a consultant for five more years to the successor company, Consolidated Vultee (Convair),
He also became a private and as unpaid Advisor/consultant on aviation matters for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Consolidated went on to become a key supplier of heavy bombers with the widely produced B-24 Liberator playing a key role in the Allied strategic bombing campaigns, and the Convair B-36—the world's largest piston-engined bomber—filling a crucial gap in the Cold War years until jet-powered bombers became widely available.
In August 1946, Fleet and his sister, Lillian, bought a parcel of land in Montesano and donated it to the city for use as a park named in honor of their parents. The city subsequently renamed Second Street to Fleet Street in their honor.
Leaving Consolidated, Fleet divided his time between his landmark home in Point Loma, California, the "Spanish Castle," and his residence in Palm Springs, California. During this time Fleet founded the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences and served on the California State Highway Commission.
In 1961 Fleet founded the San Diego Aerospace Museum.
In 1965 Fleet was invested in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame and was was awarded an honorary life membership, and in 1967, Fleet's son, Sandy founded the Fotomat Corporation.
The Fleet Space Theater and Science Center in San Diego were named in Reuben Fleet's honor in 1973
In the early 1970s, Fleet largely funded construction of The Bishop Center for Performing Arts at Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington, in honor of E. K. "Ned" and Lillian Fleet Bishop. Lillian was Fleet's sister, and "Ned" Bishop, a logging tycoon in western Washington state, was an early investor in Consolidated Aircraft. The Bishops left their fortune to a foundation that funds operation of the Bishop Center.
Among his many awards, he was elected to the International Air & Space Hall of Fame in San Diego in 1965, was named “Mr. San Diego” in 1968, and was elected to the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1975.
Since 1962 Fleet has contributed over 14,000 books to the Culver Memorial Library. He personally contributed the Academy chapel organ in memory of Col. A.F. Fleet, Superintendent of Culver Military Academy from 1897-1911.
In recognition of his numerous contributions to Culver, Reuben was presented Culver's Distinguished Service Award Sabre in October 1974. The presentation was made by Col. Ben Barone during a special ceremony at Fleet's home in San Diego
||Reuben Hollis Fleet married Elizabeth Clalrkston Girton on April 29, 1908 at Abedeen, Wahsington and they settled in Montesano, Washington. |
They had two children:
Phyllis Fleet born April 24, 1909 in Lewis County, WA
David Girton Fleet born April 30, 1901 in Lewis County, WA; David later became an executive with Consolidated and a real estate developer, creator of the upscale Fleetridge neighborhood in San Diego.
Reuben and Elizabeth were divorced in 1920. In 1931 he married Dorothy Mitchell, and they had three children:
Preston "Sandy" Mitchell Fleet (1934 - 1995) , who went on to found the Fotomat Corporation.
Dorothy Lillian Fleet Halloway (Nov. 9, 1935 - Mar. 19, 2005) married Charles Halloway (1921 - 2002)
Reuben and Dorothy were divorced in 1944. He married Eva May VanDenburgh in 1947.
Reuben died in San Diego, California on October 29, 1975 at age 88 from injuries related to a fall and buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery San Diego San Diego County California
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
The National Avivation Hall of Fame