Glenn Odekirk

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Glenn Odekirk
Glann Odekirk, Aviator.jpg
Born May 9, 1905
Waseca, Minnesota
Died January 12, 1987
Las Vegas, NV
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Esther Tatman
Children Diane Odekirk
Engineering career
Engineering discipline aerospace engineer
Institution memberships Oregon State University
Employer(s) Hughes Aircraft
Significant projects Hughes H-1 Racer, H-4 Hercules Hughes D-2

Glenn Odekirk (born Waseca, Minnesota May 9, 1905 - died Las Vegas, NV January 12, 1987), was an American aerospace engineer who made significant contributions to the work of Hughes Aircraft.

The son of Edward John and Louise (Lewis) Odekirk, Glenn, also known by his nickname 'Ode' (pronounced "OH-dee"), was an Oregon State University engineer, graduating in 1927. During the 1930s and through World War II 'Ode' was the assistant to the president of Hughes Aircraft, and had a very close, professional relationship with the president, the businessman Howard Hughes.[citation needed]

Odekirk met Hughes on the set of his movie Hell's Angels, and Hughes was very impressed with him. For several years, the two flew around the country together, testing the young engineer's ideas and arguing constantly over the most trivial matters of airplane construction.

It was Odekirk who carefully examined airplane after airplane during the 1930s, to find the one Hughes eventually used to set his record-breaking round-the-globe flight of 91 hours. A plane Odekirk helped design during 1935, known to historians as the Hughes H-1 Racer, set a world speed record of 352.39 miles per hour in September of that year, beating Raymond Delmotte's (of France) record of 314.32 miles per hour. The plane was revolutionary for its time and was one of the first planes in history to sport retractable landing gear and special countersunk screws and flat rivets to reduce wind resistance.

Odekirk's most famous project was the work he contributed to the legendary H-4 Hercules and many sources state that 'Ode' was aboard when Hughes piloted the plane on its only flight on November 2, 1947.

However, according to The Ouderkerk Family Saga: 350 Years in America,[1] Glenn Odekirk was not on the Hercules.

Odekirk recalls that day: "I dropped Hughes down on the dock and he said to me, 'Odie, you don't mind not being aboard while I taxi'"...and I said, "Oh, come on." "The fellows back there (the Brewster committee) were giving him a bad time and told him the thing would never fly. So that is when I knew real well that he would take off if possible. I know darn well if it feels right, you are going to fly it. Mr. Hughes didn't want another pilot on board because someday someone would come out and say that Howard Hughes didn't fly it, so-and-so did."[citation needed]

In the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, Matt Ross portrayed Odekirk.


  1. ^ H. John Ouderkirk (ed.), The Ouderkerk Family Saga: 350 Years in America, Chapter: Glenn Odekirk & Howard Hughes, page 180