Glenn Odekirk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Glenn Odekirk
Glann Odekirk, Aviator.jpg
BornMay 9, 1905
DiedJanuary 12, 1987 (1987-01-13) (aged 81)
Spouse(s)Esther Tatman
ChildrenDiane Odekirk
Engineering career
DisciplineAerospace engineer
InstitutionsOregon State University
Employer(s)Hughes Aircraft
ProjectsHughes H-1 Racer, H-4 Hercules Hughes D-2

Glenn Odekirk (born Waseca, Minnesota May 9, 1905 – died Las Vegas, Nevada 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 engineer who graduated from Oregon State University in 1927. During the 1930s and through World War II, Odekirk was the assistant to the businessman Howard Hughes, the president of Hughes Aircraft, with whom he had a very close professional relationship.[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.

In 1935, Odekirk co-designed the Hughes H-1 Racer. It 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 co-designed the H-4 Hercules (commonly known as the Spruce Goose) and many sources[which?] state that Odekirk 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