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Spirit of the Gift
Biography Project

Histories of the men and women behind WSU's scholarships and fellowships

Walter H. Beech & Olive Ann Beech Endowed Scholarship Fund in the College of Engineering

As a young boy, Walter H. Beech dreamed that one day he might fly. This dream resulted in a lifetime commitment to aviation as pilot, instructor, engineer and manufacturer. In 1925, he organized Travel Air Manufacturing Company with a group comprised of Clyde Cessna and Lloyd Stearman. Later in 1932, at the height of the depression, Walter H. and his wife, Olive Ann Beech, co-founded Beech Aircraft Corporation. After her husband’s untimely death in 1950, Mrs. Beech became chief executive, earning her the title "The First Lady of Aviation.” The Walter H. Beech Memorial Wind Tunnel was dedicated in 1951, on what was then Wichita University campus, in honor of the aviation pioneer. Together, their long-time friendship and support of Wichita State University helped to establish the Walter H. Beech and Olive Ann Beech Endowed Scholarship Fund for students majoring in engineering. Recognized as two of America’s greatest aviation industrialists, Mr. and Mrs. Beech continue to inspire the imagination of the aircraft industry, entrepreneurs and young dreamers.

Project History

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