Walter Herschel Beech
|Died||November 29, 1950(aged 59)|
|Occupation||Test pilot, entrepreneur, United States Army Air Forces aviator|
|Known for||Co-founder of the Beech Aircraft Corporation|
|Spouse(s)||Olive Ann Beech|
Walter Herschel Beech (January 30, 1891 – November 29, 1950) was an American aviator and early aviation entrepreneur who co-founded the Beech Aircraft Company (now called Beechcraft) in 1932 with his wife, Olive Ann Beech, and a team of three others.
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, Lloyd Stearman, 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, along with Ted Wells, K.K. Shaul, and investor C.G. Yankey, co-founded the Beech Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas. Their early Beechcraft planes won the Bendix Trophy. During World War II, Beech Aircraft 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. The company went on to become one of the "big three" in American general aviation aircraft manufacturing during the 20th century (along with Cessna and Piper).
Beech died from a heart attack on November 29, 1950. He and his wife are buried at Old Mission Mausoleum in Wichita.
In 1977, Beech was posthumously inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and 1982, he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
- 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. ...
- Phillips, Edward H. (1996). The staggerwing story : a history of the Beechcraft model 17. Eagan, Minn.: Flying Books International. ISBN 9780911139273.
- "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 ...
- Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.
- Biography at Hill Air Force Base website
- Archive - Walter H. and Olive Ann Beech Collection at Wichita State University