Walter Beech demonstrated both love for and an innate skill and understanding of aviation from a very early age. In 1905, at the age of 14, he built and flew his first aircraft, a glider of his own design. This was followed by a stint in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War I. After the war, he spent several years barnstorming throughout the Midwest. In 1921, he accepted a job with the Swallow Airplane Corporation as a test pilot and later became the general manager.