Page 25 - Volume 13 Number 1
P. 25

 As April progressed, Beech was busy hiring ex-Travel Air, Cessna, Swallow and Stearman employees that had proven skills in woodworking, welding and sheet metal. Their talents were deemed essential and would be put to the test building Ted’s new biplane. William “Pete” Hill was hired as company test pilot, and Jack Wassall had resigned from Curtiss-Wright to join Wells in the engineering department.3
As preparations for building the first airplane continued unabated, early in May the Wichita Chamber of Commerce hosted a lavish dinner to honor Walter and Olive Ann Beech. It was held in the Spanish Ballroom at the Hotel Lassen in downtown Wichita. As part of the festivities, telegrams congratulating Beech on his daring adventure were read during the dinner from Walter’s longtime friends including Jimmy Doolittle and Arthur Goebel as well as important aviation officials. Walter and Olive Ann were humbled by the affair and deeply appreciated the way Wichita had welcomed them home. As Olive Ann told one reporter, “It’s great to be back in Wichita. It seems more natural to live and work here. I hope that our stay will be a long one this time” (it certainly was!).
The banquet was enjoyed by all, but Walter was anxious to get back to work building the first Beechcraft. Throughout the month of May and into June construction
   Theodore “Ted” Wells was among the first graduates of Princeton University’s prestigious aeronautical engineering program. He worked for Travel Air in 1929-1930 and in 1931 began designing a cabin biplane that would become the first Beechcraft.

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