Fleet Model 2

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Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Fleet Model 2

Collection Item Summary:

The Fleet Model 2 was a primary flight trainer at the Roosevelt Aviation School, Long Island, New York, one of the leading civilian aviation schools in the U.S. in the 1930s. It was one of ten Fleet aircraft owned by Roosevelt Field, out of about 350 Fleet aircraft built between 1929 and 1942. Hundreds of student pilots received instruction in this Fleet at Roosevelt Field or later in Pennsylvania in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, which provided pilots for military service during World War II.

Designed by Major Reuben Fleet as a smaller version of the military PT-3 trainer, the compact and relatively inexpensive Fleet was the first aircraft specifically designed for the civilian flight training market. In September 1979, Eugene Breiner, an FAA Principal Airworthiness Inspector, purchased NC8689 and restored it to its 1939 Roosevelt Field trainer configuration. In 1985, Breiner’s Plane Jane, so named because it was a just a plain simple airplane, returned to flying status.

Collection Item Long Description:

The Fleet Model was a primary flight trainer at the Roosevelt Aviation School, Long Island, New York, one of the leading civilian aviation schools in the U.S. in the 1930s. It was one of ten Fleet aircraft owned by Roosevelt Field, out of about 350 built between 1929 and 1942. Hundreds of student pilots received instruction in this Kinner-powered Fleet at Roosevelt Field including Zack Mosley, the creator of the comic strip Smilin’Jack. Mosely received dual instruction from Downwind Jackson (who became a character in the comic strip) and took his private pilot flight test in it. Former National Air and Space Museum curator Robert B. Meyer soloed in the aircraft in 1939; 48 years later Meyer flew it again at the Antique Aero Squadron Fly In at Horn Point, Maryland.

When all civilian flight training was prohibited east of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania in 1942, due to the onset of World War II, Howard Ailor, founder of Aircraft Services Consolidated, bought this and five other Fleets from Roosevelt Field and moved them to Bloomsburg Airport, Bloomsburg, PA. Students continued to fly the Fleet as part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), a government-funded instruction program for potential military pilots prior to and during World War II. The Fleet is now the only aircraft in the Museum's collection to have an official CPTP history.

A number of owners operated the Fleet in Central Pennsylvania after the war but by 1950 the fabric would not pass inspection and it was stored in a northeastern Pennsylvania barn for 29 years. In September 1979, Eugene Breiner, an FAA Principal Airworthiness Inspector, purchased NC8689 and restored it to its 1939 Roosevelt Field trainer configuration. In 1985, Breiner’s Plane Jane, so named because it was a just a plain simple airplane, returned to flying status. He spent many summers performing at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Cole Palin’s antique aircraft haven in Rhinebeck, New York, including flying rings around passengers in a 1929 Standard biplane so they could take pictures of the Fleet. Plane Jane is an 18-time medal winner at fly-ins in the east.

Designed by Major Reuben Fleet as a smaller version of the Consolidated PT-3 Husky, a military trainer, the compact and relatively inexpensive Fleet was the first aircraft specifically designed for the civilian flight training market. The two-seat, dual-control, open-cockpit biplane with a steel tube frame, spruce wing spars, aluminum ribs, and fabric covering had good visibility, was strong but lightweight and was easy on the controls for the student pilot. The Taylor E-2, Piper J-2, Aeronca C-3, and Cessna 140 followed but the Fleet continued to fill the gap between these small civilian trainers and heavier or military trainers. The Fleet was also a popular sport aircraft; veteran pilot Paul Mantz set a record of 46 outside loops in one. It was completed at the Fleet Aircraft Company, of Buffalo, New York (at the time solely owned by Major Fleet), on May 14, 1929.

On June 18, 2011, John Machamer flew Plane Jane from Bermudian Valley Airport, Pennsylvania to Frederick, Maryland where he was joined by restorer Gene Breiner for the final leg of the flight to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, Virginia. Because Plane Jane does not have a radio or transponder required for the Washington, DC airspace, it was accompanied by another properly equipped aircraft. Breiner and his family donated the aircraft at the Museum's Be A Pilot Family Day.

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Gift of Eugene C. and Joyce K. Breiner.

Materials

Steel-tube frame fabric-covered fuselage with spruce wing spars and aluminum ribs.

Dimensions

Length x Wingspan x Height, Weight - 6.55 m x 8.73 m x 2.43 m, 714.4 kg (21 ft. x 28 ft. x 7 5/6 ft, 1575 lb)

Date

1929

Physical Description

Two-seat, dual controls open-cockpit biplane with steel tube frame, spruce wing spars, aluminum ribs, all fabric covered; with Kinner K5 100 hp engine

Type

CRAFT-Aircraft

Inventory Number

A20120137000

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