Walter Herschel Beech
Walter Herschel Beech was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 pioneer aviator.


He was born in Pulaski, Tennessee
Pulaski, Tennessee
Pulaski is a city in Giles County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 7,870 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Giles County. It was named to honor the Polish-born American Revolutionary War hero Kazimierz Pułaski...

 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
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, he joined the Swallow Airplane Company
Swallow Airplane Company
In January 1920, the E.M. Laird Aviation Co. Ltd. was started with the purchase of the six month old Witchita Aircraft Company, it's aircraft and the factory of the Watkins Manafacturing Company. Oilman Jacob Mollendick and Buick-Franklin salesman W.A. Burke each contributed $15,000.The first...

 as a test pilot. He later became general manager
General manager
General manager is a descriptive term for certain executives in a business operation. It is also a formal title held by some business executives, most commonly in the hospitality industry.-Generic usage:...

 of the company. In 1924 he and Clyde Cessna formed Travel Air Manufacturing Company. When the company merged with Curtiss-Wright
The Curtiss-Wright Corporation was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States at the end of World War II, but has evolved to largely become a component manufacturer, specializing in actuators, aircraft controls, valves, and metalworking....

, Beech became vice-president.

In 1932 he and his wife, Olive Ann Beech
Olive Ann Beech
Olive Ann Beech was a U.S. aviation pioneer and businesswoman.With her husband, Walter Herschel Beech, she founded the Beech Aircraft Company....

, co-founded Beech Aircraft Company. Their early Beechcraft planes won the Bendix Trophy
Bendix trophy
The Bendix Trophy is a U.S. aeronautical racing trophy. The transcontinental, point-to-point race, sponsored by industrialist Vincent Bendix founder of Bendix Corporation, began in 1931 as part of the National Air Races. Initial prize money for the winners was $15,000...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 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.

Beech died from a heart attack on November 29, 1950. He and his wife are buried at Old Mission mausoleum in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...


External links

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