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Olive Ann Beech

Dates: 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).

Olive Ann Beech