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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.

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People - Notable Kansans - Beech, Olive Ann Mellor, 1903-1993

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Beechcraft Bonanza Model 35

Beechcraft Bonanza Model 35
Date: 1947
A photograph of a Beechcraft Bonanza Model 35 airplane in flight. Aviation pioneers Walter H. and Olive Ann Beech founded the Beech Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas, in 1932.


Official War Department descriptions of various military types of Beechcraft

Official War Department descriptions of various military types of Beechcraft
Creator: Beech Aircraft Corporation
Date: September 29, 1944
This pamphlet published by the Beech Aircraft Corporation describes the various models the company produced during World War II for military use. During the conflict Beechcraft airplanes served as the primary trainers for thousands of U.S. Army Air Force and U.S. Navy personnel.


Olive Ann Beech

Olive Ann Beech
Date: Between 1930 and 1940
This is a photograph of Olive Ann Beech, wife of Walter H. Beech. She was born and raised on a farm south of Waverly, Kansas. Olive Ann attended business college in Wichita and worked for the Travel Air Manufacturing Company in Wichita. She married Walter H. Beech on February 24, 1930. In 1932, they co-founded the Beech Aircraft Corporation. After her husband's death in 1950, Olive Ann assumed the position of president of the corporation and was named its chairman emeritus after her retirement in 1982. She brought the company through fifty years of growth from the Staggerwing Biplane to Skylab, and from ten employees to ten thousand. Her other honors include: woman of the Year (1951); Kansan of the Year (1958); and nomination to the NASA Space Shuttle Study Committee (1971).


Olive Ann Beech

Olive Ann Beech
Date: Between 1950 and 1955
This is an informal portrait of the "First Lady of Aviation," Olive Ann Beech (1903-1993), co-founder and President of the Beech Aircraft Corporation, standing by a Beechcraft Bonanza (Model 35) airplane. Beech was born and raised on a farm south of Waverly, Kansas. She attended business college in Wichita and worked for the Travel Air Manufacturing Company in Wichita, before marrying Walter H. Beech on February 24, 1930. In 1932, they co-founded the Beech Aircraft Corporation. After her husband's death in 1950, Beech assumed the position of president of the corporation, and was named its chairman emeritus after her retirement in 1982. She brought the company through fifty years of growth from the Staggerwing Biplane to Skylab and from ten employees to ten thousand. Her other honors include: Woman of the Year (1951); Kansan of the Year (1958); and nomination to the NASA Space Shuttle Study Committee (1971).


Walter Herschel Beech and Olive Ann Beech

Walter Herschel Beech and Olive Ann Beech
Date: Between 1940 and 1945
Walter Herschel Beech, 1891-1950, and Olive Ann Beech, 1903-1993, viewing World War II aircraft production lines at the Beechcraft Plant I in Wichita, Kansas.


Wichitan pioneer in development of airplane industry

Wichitan pioneer in development of airplane industry
Creator: Wichita Eagle
Date: April 25, 1943
This article from the Wichita Eagle details the achievements of Walter and Olive Beech. Beech's life in the aviation industry began in 1922 when he joined the Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Company. The article also addresses the role of Beech's wife, Olive, and her contribution to the success of the Beech Aircraft Company.


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