For thirty-one years of it’s life, Chance Vought Aircraft, one of the four divisions of United Aircraft Corporation, had been a fixture in the New England area. At various stages of it’s history, the company had occupied plants in Long Island City, East Hartford Connecticut, and Stratford Connecticut – all close to it’s parent corporation.
Chance Vought had grown from a tiny shop in a factory loft to a firm employing 8,000 persons and producing such outstanding planes as the famed Navy Corsair – the Navy’s most versatile fighter-bomber during World War II.
It’s policies had, through the years, made it a respected and stable citizen of New England. It’s philosophy of fair play, it’s method of treating it’s employees as members of a team, had produced in the employees a loyalty which had held some of them to their jobs for almost as long as the firm had been in existence.
Suddenly, in 1948, Chance Vought astounded industry by announcing that it was moving to Texas, and taking with it millions of pounds of equipment and 1500 of its key employees, many of whom had been born and raised in New England. Chance Vought’s migration, which was planned to extend over fourteen months, had captured the interest of the press, of industry, and “the man on the street”. One spurred and 10-gallon hatted gentleman, in fact, strode up to Chance Vought’s receptionist when the firm was already operating 3,000 persons strong and demanded: “Is Chance Vought really moving to Texas?” The girl smilingly assured him that the evidence lay all around him. “Well, I’ll be hornswoggled!” he ejaculated and strode out. Other inquirers asked more specific questions. But the most persistent query of all was simply: “How did you do it?” This history, compiled in the last stages of the move, attempts to answer that question.
The daring idea of this migration, actually, was not Chance Vought’s, but the United States Navy’s. This is the many-faceted story of how Chance Vought’s men and women translated an idea into a reality.
It is not merely a story of machines and freight cars and moving vans and bills of lading, but people. It is also a story of the 1500 Chance Vought employees transported from New England to the south, and of their families, and of the Texans who joined forces with them to make the transfer a success.
The story can give only a fragmentary account of the results of Chance Vought’s cross-country migration, for it is expected that the move of a big plant will go on bearing fruit in the way of more economical and efficient production of airplanes and more secure service to it’s country for decades to come.