Reuben H. Fleet

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In 1906 Reuben Hollis Fleet graduated from the Culver Military Academy in Culver Indiana. Called to active duty in early 1917, he attended aviation training at the Army Aviation School in San Diego. Upon receiving his pilot's wings as military aviator No. 74, Capt Reuben Fleet was assigned to Air Service Headquarters in Washington, DC, planning and supervising aircrew training. In testimony to his fine staff work, this program trained nearly 11,000 pilots by November 1918. During his duty in Washington, Major Fleet was given the task of establishing the first U.S. Air Mail from Washington to New York. Within six days of this assignment, he had assembled the necessary modified Curtiss JN-4s and the service was inaugurated on May 15, 1918. In 1919, Major Fleet was reassigned to the U.S. Army Flight Test Center at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, as business manager. It was here he acquired the experience which inspired him to enter the civilian aviation industry, leaving the service in late 1922 to begin his distinguished career as an aviation industrialist. 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. In a leased factory, the new company developed a successful series of training planes in which literally every military pilot learned to fly during the next decade. It was, however, the great flying boats, the Admiral patrol bombers for the U.S. Navy and the Commodore flying boats for Pan American Airways, developed by Fleet and his Consolidated team in 1929 which made his company an industrial giant. Throughout his life, Fleet was known as a pioneer and patriot. He believed in basic virtues such as personal integrity, self-reliance, devotion to duty, love of country, and respect for truth. In the post war years he devoted much of his time and fortune to works of philanthropy, contributing to hundreds of scholarship programs, a variety of charities, and the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theatre and Planetarium in San Diego, California.
Inducted in 1965.
Portrait Location: World War I Gallery

Induction Video

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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