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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Beaird, Hank, 1924-2009



  • Existence: 1924 November 12 - 2009 February 2

Biographical Note: Hank Beaird

Henry “Hank” Beaird Jr. (1924-2009) was a World War II aviator, flying fighters and transports for the U.S. Army Air Force and test pilot for Lear Jet and Lear Fan Corporations.

Henry "Hank" Beaird Jr. was born on November 12, 1924 in Headland, Alabama. He graduated from Cullman County High School and attended Auburn University. In April 1943, Beaird joined the United States Army Air Forces. He received his commission and wings in 1944. Beaird was stationed primarily in New Guinea with the 3rd Air Commando Group as well as in Japan after the war as part of the occupation forces. In November 1946, he was discharged from active duty.

Post-war, Beaird completed his aeronautical engineering degree in 1949. He then worked at Chance Vought as an engineer and served in the Texas Air National Guard. After a couple of relocations and job shifts, Beaird joined Lear Jet Corporation in Wichita, Kansas as chief test pilot, where he made first flights on the Lear Jet Models 23, 24, and 25. During a ten-year hiatus from the field of aviation, he lived in Bonham, Texas where he worked as a teacher. He returned to aviation to pilot the first flight of the Lear Fan 2100.

Beaird married Rosalind Riddle on June 22, 1951. The couple had four sons. Beaird was a charter member and Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots as well as a member of the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. He died on February 2, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Series XIV. Lear Fan Limited, 1942-1947, 1975-1999, undated

Scope and Contents: Lear Fan Limited Series XIV: Lear Fan Limited (LFL) provides a look into the development, production, flight testing, and quest for FAA certification of the Lear Fan 2100, an innovative all-composite airplane that William P. Lear and his team designed in 1976-1977. The series is arranged into eight subseries: administrative records, correspondence, financial records, legal records, photographs, publicity materials, research materials, and ...

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