Soloing in 1914, Beech served as an instructor in the aviation section during World War I. Then he joined the Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Company and rose to General Manager in 1924, he formed Travel Air manufacturing Company. As President and General Manager, he used its biplanes to win the 1925 and 1926 Ford reliability tours. In 1927 its cabin planes made tne first commercial flight from California to Hawaii, and won the Dole Air Derby. Then a “Model R” won the 1929 Thompson Trophy Race. In 1930, he became a Vice-President of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.
After establishing the Beech Aircraft Corporation in 1932 and becoming its President. Beech’s popular Model 17 “Staggerwing” cabin biplanes were used to make a flight around the world, set many air records, and win the 1936 Bendix Trophy Race. In 1938, his Model 18 “Twin Beech” transport was introduced for executive and feeder airline use and soon made Beech a leader in the general aviation field. During World War II, the “Staggerwing” served as an ambulance transport and communications plane, and the “Twin Beech” as a transport, photography plane and trainer with U.S. and allied air forces. In addition, Beech produced the AT-10 trainer and developed the “Grizzly” attack bomber. In all, the company built 7,400 planes for the war effort. In 1946, Beech introduced the unique V-Tail “Bonanza,” which was an immediate success. One set a record 4,960 mile solo flight. Other postwar Beech aircraft included the “Twin-Squad” feeder airline, the r-34 “Mentor” trainer and the versatile “Twin Bonanza,” also used by the military.
Walter Herschel Beech was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame on July 23, 1977, for outstanding contributions to aviation by his outstanding contributions to aviation by his creation of innovative aircraft, of design excellence that served private and business flying in peace and the nation in war and in the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame on 13 November 1988 for extraordinary aviation contributions to the great State of Kansas and the United States of America.