The PT-1 was the first major production aircraft to come out of Major Reuben H. Fleet’s Consolidated Aircraft Corporation of Buffalo, New York. Major Fleet obtained the design and manufacturing rights to the Dayton-Wright TW-3 trainer, and formed Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in 1923. In 1924, the Army Air Corps selected the PT-1, a design based on modifications of the Dayton-Wright TW-3, as a primary trainer to replace the aging Curtiss Jenny fleet. With an initial order from the Air Service for 20 airplanes, Fleet started production in leased facilities owned by Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation. With a further order for 50 aircraft, a former Curtiss factory in Buffalo was leased to build them. The PT-1 had wooden wings, with a steel tube framed fuselage, tail, struts and landing gear, with a 180 hp Wright E V-8 engine. More orders followed; a total of 230 were produced for the Army, as well as four for Siam (Thailand).
The PT-1 quickly gained the nickname Trusty because of the ease with which it could be flown. During the first year of its use as a trainer, over 500 students flew in the PT-1 without any serious injuries; the aircraft had exceeded all expectations. Economical to maintain and repair, it was easy to fly – a characteristic that helped student pilots gain much-needed confidence.
The Museum’s Trusty served the Army Air Corps from 1928 to 1932, attached to fields around the country: Fairfield, Maxwell, Richards, Selfridge and Rockwell Fields. In 1931 the Army overhauled the aircraft and covered it in new fabric with the markings of the 430th Pursuit Squadron of Richards Field, Kansas City, Missouri. This aircraft was purchased from Harry E. Kirk in Rushville, Indiana in 1978. After completing the work to put the aircraft on exhibit, it was donated to the Museum by the Atlas Hotels of San Diego. The Museum’s PT-1 is one of only two complete examples known to exist.