pictures --->

Reuben Fleet

Fleet (L) briefs pilot George L. Boyle 1918
photo from Air Mail Pioneers
proposed airport site 1927
1 - 2 - 3
ad from San Diego Union Special Supplement, Consolidated Dedication Day, Oct. 20, 1941
PBY-5A over Aleutians 1943/03
(NWDNS-80-G-475409 from NA)
Linda Vista water tower 1941
Vultee ad 1942/9/7
going to work 1943
1917 graduated as naval aviator from North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego

1918/5/15 head of air mail service and contract officer for Army Air Corps

1922/11 to Gallaudet Aircraft Corp. in RI as general manager

1923/5 created Consolidated Aircraft Co. (known as Consair); moved to Buffalo NY in 1924 to build Army training planes in old Glenn Curtiss plant

1930 made the Commodore all-metal flying boat for his own new airline, the New York, Rio & Buenos Aires Line Inc. (later part of Pan-American Airlines), for long-range flights to South America

1933/5/29 decided to accept the invitation of Tom Bowmar and T.C. Macaulay and Emil Klicka to move to San Diego

1935/06/29 - contract to build 60 long-range PBY Catalina flying boats for Navy to patrol Pacific - few bases available

1935/10/30 dedicated first plant along Pacific Highway to build 50 P-30 pursuit planes for Army contract awarded in Dec. 1934

1936/10/05 - 1st PBY-1 launched on test flight on SD bay - Consair employment rose from 900 in 1935 to 3700

1937/6/24 Richard Archbold made first transcontinental flight from SD to NYC in a seaplane, built by Consair, in 17 hours

1937/12/08 - 14 Consair PBY twin-engine seaplanes started 3000-mile nonstop flight to Canal Zone from SD

1937/12/07 - first "superdreadnaught of the air", the 4-engine XPB2Y-1 seaplane completed - [image of PBY-5A on display in the courtyard at the San Diego Aerospace Museum]

1939/03/30 - Consair B-24 prototype contract for Army - unique aluminum alloy wing with duprene sealant - special rivet-making machines for the 250,000 rivets in each B-24

1939/9/1 - Germany invaded Poland; Consair added 17 acres to its original lease of 27 acres with option for 22 more acres to expand plant capacity - viewstory from San Diego Union 1939/9/13

1939/12/20 - contract to sell 200 PBY-5 seaplanes to Navy for $20m - largest airplane contract yet awarded - [image of PBY at seaplane ramp on San Diego Bay, from National Geographic, June 1942 - image of PBY in British RAF from Illustrated London News, 1941/04/19 ]

1940/3/18 - official test flight of B-24 for Army Air Force - also British order for 164 B-24s increased to 344 after fall of France in June

1940/05/16 - FDR speech on Defense - asked for 50,000 planes per year - 5 major CA companies began massive expansion: Douglas, Lockheed, North American, Vultee, Consair - Reuben Fleet had backlog of $70m in orders, with 5700 employees, adding 150 per week and doubling plant capacity with funds from Defense Plant Corp. in Dec., subcontracted with Claude Ryan and Fred Rohr

1940/10/14 - Henry Morgenthau announced new housing to be built in SD to accomodate Consair - funds from new Lanham Act for National Defense Housing (not low-rent USHA) - 945,000 built by 1945 - Reuben Fleet flew to Washington D.C. and met personally with Morgenthau to get one of the first Lanham Act grants

1940/11/01 - 1st test flight of B-24 at Consair - "only 10 months elapsed in completing the engineering and drafting work"

1940/12/12 - construction contract awarded for defense housing project 4092 "The biggest construction job in SD's history" - $9,070,000 for 3000 units in Linda Vista

1941/03/05 - Linda Vista construction began - McNeil and Zoss under contract to build 3000 units in 300 days - split project into 8 sections - each house built by 45 operations - many parts prefab - at peak, 40 homes per day completed - "The world's largest low-cost modern housing development was carefully planned to meet every contingency" - one 2BR unit in LV built every 10 minutes - "modern building miracle" of prefabrication - but doorless closets and no garages - no paved streets or sidewalks - only one water pipe - interior floor plan of all 3000 units identical but 25 different exteriors

1941/04/24 - FDR named SD as one of 146 cities designated as defense area eligible for FHA Title 6 loans ($100m approp'd for next 12 months)

1941/05/06 - Linda Vista opened to tenants - by Jan 1, '42, population was 2290 families; by May 1 was 2701 families; by Jan 1, '43 was 3087 families; by Apr 1, '43 was 4416 families representing 16,000 people, or 16,245 total, average family 3.71 - [image of "San Diego, Boom Town" from Life, 1941/7/28 - also image of PBY in San Diego Bay in cigarette ad]

1941/05/26 - one of Consair's Catalina PBYs, with American copilot, spotted the Bismarck - sunk next day

1941/06/28 - Title II added to Lanham Act for community facilities, schools, playgrounds

1941/09/01 - Consair employment at 23,089 and would grow to 45,000 by 1943 - avg wage for 50-hour week (10 overtime) was $47.50 - min. pay was $27.50 per wk - families paid avg $20 per month rent for 1BR in Linda Vista - Consair has 17% of total U.S. aviation business (40% of CA) - trained new workers in 24-hour vocational school "unheard of in the history of education" (San Diego Union)

1941/09/09 - official dedication of Linda Vista - viewstory from San Diego Union Nov. 6, 1941, announcing final completion of the construction project

1941/09/26 - govt defense housing totaled of 342 projects with 91,344 units costing $359m, not including $300m FHA defense housing program

1941/12/19 - Fleet became private consultant to FDR - special telephone installed for Fleet - was asked by FDR to help Russia build PBY factory on Black Sea 1937 but plant was captured by Germans 1941

1942/02/18 - contract to M.H. Golden to build Kearny High School at cost of $344,900 - completed 1943/03/10 with 1014 students and 45 teachers

1942/04/23 - 1st Linda Vista child care center opened

1943/02/02 - Safeway store opens for 16,000 residents of Linda Vista

1943/03/01 - formal merger of Consair and Vultee completed - 1

1943/11/09 - Linda Vista Department Store opened in planned shopping center, the first such center in San Diego - [small or large drawing from Architectural Forum, Sept. 1944]

1961 - Fleet was founder and first president of Aerospace Museum

1967 - son Sandy Fleet had interest in photography, started Fotomat in the shopping center on Dutch Flats where the old airport had been located

1973/3/10 - Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater opened to public - son Sandy Fleet led the effort to create the Theater, and the Fleet family donated $800,000

1975/10/29 - Reuben Fleet died at age 88

[view large GIF of this Nov. 25 front page or read text only of story from the Nov. 26 issue
both from the first announcements of the merger published in the San Diego Union, 1941]



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revised 11/1/05 by Steven Schoenherr | WWII Timeline | WWII links | Mobilization | Central Pacific