The Museum's Fleet Finch over the Fraser Valley
(Photo: M. Luedey)
Reuben Fleet was born on March 6, 1887, in Montesano, Washington. The Fleets were a prosperous family; his father was city engineer and county auditor for Montesano, and owned large tracts of land in the Washington Territory. Reuben grew up in Grays Harbor, Washington. At 15, Fleet attended Culver Military Academy where his uncle was superintendent.
In 1907, Fleet returned home where he began teaching all grades from first through eighth. After a number
of months, Fleet set himself up as a realtor and resigned from teaching. During this time, Fleet joined the
Washington National Guard, as Captain. During his service he was sent to San Diego and was so impressed with its climate that he decided 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 designed and built biplane trainers for the US Army under the Consolidated name from 1923. This led to commercial, then military flying boats and the B-24 bomber for WW2.
The Fleet line of aircraft was built at Fort Erie, Ontario headed by Jack Sanderson, a former RCAF pilot. When the Finch trainer production was complete the company produced the Fairchild-designed Cornell for the BCATP. Postwar the company produced the Fleet Canuck, then turned to component manufacture for other large manufacturers.
Fleet 80 Canuck C-FDPG at Langley
(Photo: V. Bentley)
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