Walter and Olive Ann Beech selected as 2023 Paul E. Garber Shrine honorees

Published 4:22 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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The First Flight Society announced on May 4, 2023 that Walter and Olive Ann Beech have been named the 2023 honorees to be inducted into the Dr. Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine located in the Museum and Visitors Center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills.

This honor is selected annually by a high-level panel appointed by the First Flight Society from among numerous nominations submitted from around the world as well as compiled lists of qualified candidates. The induction ceremony will be held on Wright Brothers Day, December 17, 2023, with a celebration banquet held on December 16 in Kitty Hawk. A portrait of the Beeches will be unveiled and presented at the ceremony on December 17 celebrating the 120th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers First Flight.

Walter Herschel Beech (January 30, 1891 – November 29, 1950) was an American aviator and early aviation entrepreneur who co-founded the Beech Aircraft Company in 1932 with his wife, Olive Ann Beech, and a team of three others. Olive Ann Mellor Beech (September 25, 1903 – July 6, 1993) was an American aerospace businesswoman who was not only co-founder, but later president and chairwoman of the Beech Aircraft Corporation. She earned more awards, honorary appointments and special citations than any other woman in aviation history and was often referred to as the “First Lady of Aviation.”

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William Douglas, chairman of the First Flight Society’s National Advisory Committee, served as chair of the Dr. Paul E. Garber Shrine Selection Panel and managed the selection process.

Honorees for the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine are selected annually by a National Advisory Committee from a list of nominees submitted to the First Flight Society and public that is passed to the committee for consideration. For 2024, the committee accepts a letter of nomination accompanied by supporting documentation.

The nominee(s) may but does not have to be a “first” but rather “… a person, living or dead, who since December 17, 1903, either personally or with the assistance of others, have made such outstanding accomplishments in support of flight operations that they are generally recognized nationally and internationally for their achievements and contributions to aerospace activities.”

The nomination form for the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine can be downloaded from

This should be mailed with any supporting documents to:  First Flight Society, Post Office Box 1903, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949.  Nominations may also be emailed to:

Nominations are due May 31, 2023. Questions can be addressed to the NAC chair, Charlie Davidson at

For more information about the Paul E Garber Shrine, visit

The First Flight Society created the Paul E Garber Shrine in 1966 to honor individuals and groups for achieving significant “firsts” in aviation development since 1903. Charles Lindbergh, Tuskegee Airmen, Mary Feik, John Glenn, Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures), Sally K. Ride and most recently Benjamin O. Davis Jr., among others.

First Flight Society’s vision is: One day people everywhere will be inspired by the dauntless resolution and tireless work of the Wright Brothers. Their mission is to tell the story of the Wright Brothers through community events, education and the commemoration of the world’s very first powered flight in Kitty Hawk.

More information about the First Flight Society can be found at

– Submitted by First Flight Society, Inc.