Relive memories of Downey's aviation days

DOWNEY -- Lifelong resident Bob Thompson will be the guest speaker at Thursday's meeting of the Downey Historical Society at the Barbara J. Riley Community Center.Thompson will narrate 30-minute 8mm home movies shot by Peter Vultee, son of Jerry Vultee. The film includes footage of Burt W. Kinner in Downey in the 1930s. The meeting will be held inside the John Downey Room at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited. Bob Thompson grew up in Downey. He attended Alameda Elementary, E.W. Ward, South Junior High, and in 1959 graduated from Downey High School. After high school, he enlisted in the Army, where he was a bridge specialist. After leaving the Army, Thompson entered the workforce and, after a few jobs, was hired at North American Aviation in 1965. He started as a power trucker on night shift. In 1966, he became a plastic fabricator and worked on fairings for S-II Stage. In 1967 he began working at the Seal Beach plant which installed spray foam insulation. He moved on to autonetics in 1972 where he worked in maintenance. After a short stint at the Los Angeles plant, he eventually returned to Downey in 1980 and worked in logistics. Thompson went back to Seal Beach in 2000, and finally retired from Boeing in 2007. That same year he became a volunteer at the Downey Historical Society. Aircraft history in Downey Unlike many American aircraft companies of the 1920's and 30's, North American Aviation (NAA) did not bear the names of individual founders, such as Boeing, Curtiss, and Douglas. NAA was incorporated in December, 1928. In July, 1934 Duth Kindelberger, chief engineer for Douglas, left Douglas to become president and general manager of NAA. NAA came to Los Angeles sometime in 1935-36 and leased the Downey plant in December of 1947. NAA merged with Rockwell Standard to become North American Rockwell on Sept. 22, 1967. On Dec. 6, 1966, Boeing took over Rockwell, and the Downey plant closed in 1999. ********** Published: March 20, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 48