He was born in Pulaski, Tennessee on January 30, 1891. Beech started flying in 1905, at age 14, when he built a glider of his own design. Then, after flying for the United States Army during World War I, he joined the Swallow Airplane Company as a test pilot. He later became general manager of the company. In 1924 he and Clyde Cessna formed Travel Air Manufacturing Company. When the company merged with Curtiss-Wright, Beech became vice-president.
In 1932, he and his wife, Olive Ann Beech, co-founded Beech Aircraft Company. Their early Beechcraft planes won the Bendix Trophy. During World War II, he produced more than 7,400 military aircraft. The twin Beech AT-7/C-45 trained more than 90 percent of the U.S. Army Air Forces navigator/bombardiers and 50 percent of its multi-engine pilots.
- Dick, Ron; Dan Patterson (2003). "Great Names". Aviation Century: The Early Years. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills. p. 206. ISBN 1-55046-407-8.
- "Walter Herschel Beech". Hill Air Force Base. Retrieved 2011-11-14. "Walter Beech began a long and distinguished career in aviation at the early age of 14, when he built a glider of his own design. Then, after flying for the U.S. Army during World War I, he joined the Swallow Airplane Company as a test pilot. He later became General Manager of the company. In 1924, Beech joined Clyde Cessna in co-founding Travel Air Manufacturing Company, which was to become the world's largest producer of both monoplane and biplane commercial aircraft. ..."
- "Walter Beech, 59, Leader In Aviation". New York Times. December 1, 1950. Retrieved 2011-11-14. "Walter Beech, founder and president of the Beech Aircraft Corporation died ..."