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Posted 5/15/2007 Printable Fact Sheet
Walter Beach
American Aerospace Pioneer, Walter Hershel Beech
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Walter Herschel Beech

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.

When Travel Air merged with the Curtiss-Wright Airplane Company Beech became President of the new corporation. However, he sought a more personal participation in aircraft design and manufacturing. Consequently, in 1932 he and his wife, Olive Ann, co-founded Beech Aircraft Company. Their early Beechcraft planes set many distance and speed records and won the prestigious Bendix Trophy.

During World War II, Beech turned the entire production of his company to defense, producing more than 7,400 military aircraft. The famed 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. 

In the postwar years Walter Beech again applied his design genius to producing a new line of light aircraft, the most famous of which was the "V"-tailed Bonanza.

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