Women You Should Know – Olive Ann Beech (1903-1993)

Olive Ann Beech is recognized as the First Lady of Aviation. In 1932, Olive and her husband Walter co-founded Beech Aircraft Corporation. At its inception, Beech Aircraft created the Stagger-wing Biplane, which included characteristics that were considered unattainable at that time. The biplane had the interior of a luxury automobile and maintained a speed of 200 miles per hour. The biplane was capable of a landing speed of no higher than 60 miles per hour and a non-stop range of 1,000 miles. Beech Aircraft was to eventually grow from a mere 10 employees to 10,000. After Walters’s death in 1950, Olive took over the leadership of the company as its president and chairman of the board. Her deliberate and planned approach earned her a reputation as a genius of the business world. She held the leadership position for 20 years, during which time the company’s sales tripled. Beech Aircraft supplied products for NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs. Following her retirement, Olive held a position on the board of directors until her death in 1993.

Source for additional information
Wichita State University Libraries, Department of Special Collections (n.d.). Olive Ann and Walter H. Beech: Partners in Aviation. Retrieved May 30, 2005, from http://specialcollections.wichita.edu/exhibits/beech/exhibita.html.

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