Louis Bennett Jr. was born on September 22, 1894, in Weston, West Virginia. He was the third child of Lewis and Sallie Bennett, two members of locally prominent families. Louis showed signs of being mechanically inclined at an early age. At age twelve, he built a motorcycle and an automobile. Louis was educated in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He enrolled at Yale in 1913 where he was on the lacrosse and wrestling teams. In 1917 he graduated from Yale.
Louis learned to fly at the Aero Club of America and the Burgess Company of Massachusetts. He read accounts of the war in Europe, and he realized aviation could be a factor in the war effort. Recognizing the military potential of the airplane, he established the West Virginia Flying Corps in Beech Bottom. He secured financing for the flight school from Governor John J. Cornwell, but the school folded owing to the expense. As a result, Louis enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps. He received additional flight training in Taliaferro, Texas, which was sponsored by a U.S. Canadian agreement.