WILLIAM ODOM (1919 - 1949)

(CNAC October 1944 - 1945?)
(Captain - ???)
(Hump Flights - XXX)

In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, Bill gave his address as:

William C. or G.(?) Odom
235 Traumble Rd.
Manhasset, L.I. N.Y.

All I know right now is that Homer "Andy" Anderson remembers Bill.

November 6, 2001
"Hi Tom, Bill Odom, as far as I can recall, came to CNAC about the same time as Jim Tate around Oct. '44. He never flew with me, and I don't know where he stayed while in Calcutta. I did see him once in awhile at one or the other hotel bars. And I believe Bill returned to the States after the war.

Odom then went to work for a corporate company that sold the new invention of ball point pens. I think the name of the millionaire was Reynolds? He then got Reynolds to buy a surplus C-87 (converted B-24) with single rudder. He and his boss set out to break the "around the world" record in 1948. I know this because they got stuck in Calcutta and he phoned me at my apartment. I went out to the airport (DumDum) and met he and Reynolds. They were rather dejected that the trip seemed doomed! However, Reynolds kept passing out his ball-point pens as souvenirs! I don't recall if it was on this trip or later; but Bill and Reynolds said they were going to locate a mountain somewhere in northwestern China that was higher than Everest. Odom had told his boss that he had seen it when he used to fly the "Hump"!! Where they actually flew to in the C-87, I am not certain. This story of the hig mountain was then written up in some well know magazine and gave facts, figures and location. I remember reading the article and realized it had to be a hoax; I guess mainly to promote the Reynold's pens. If there were such a mountain, a lot of us CNAC guys would have hit it! The highest mountain in China is Minigongka? at 25,800ft.

After all that, Bill Odom opened a restraunt on route 46 at the north end of Teterboro Airport, New Jersey. I visited the place once and Bill was not there. There were photos of himself in CNAC uniform; also photos of the C-87 and the high mountain etc. The restraunt lasted awhile and then he sold out, I believe. The next time I heard of Bill; he had a P-47 and had been competing in the national air races out west. In one of these races he rolled the P-47 into a firey ball and was killed. I don't recall what date that was. I do remember reading about it in the news.

That's the best I can do for you Tom. All the Best, Pete (Goutiere)

June 2, 2003
"Bill Odom did not fly a P-47 into a fire ball, as this web indicates. Odom had a customized P-51 Mustang, painted a deep green, with the musical staff for "Begin the Beguine" painted along the fuselage. I know, because I was a CAP Cadet assigned to guard it during the night. I'll never forget the horror of seeing him not return as he flew around the pylons and out of sight. The next thing we saw was a large plume of black smoke, and later learned he had flown his plane into a high speed stall from which he could not recover because of his low altitude. Sadly, he flew it into a house in Brookpark, Ohio. Things like that you never forget.

From another source: Sadly, the legendary annual Cleveland air races were cancelled after the 1949 event, in part, because the highly touted "Beguine," a radically altered P-51C owned by Jacqueline Cochran and flown by Bill Odom, veered off the race course and smashed into a nearby home, killing its two unsuspecting occupants and the pilot.

It was not until 1964 that unlimited pylon racing made a comeback at a remote desert site near Reno, Nevada, due to the determination of enthusiast Bill Stead.

February 18, 2005

Hi Tom........

Thanks for your prompt reply. I have quite a bit of info on Odom. Some mine and some from others and the web. I was in Japan at Yokota AB when he flew there on two occasions. I worked on his airnav equipment. When he landed there on his second trip, I was the first one to greet him to Japan. He radioed ahead that he needed his radio compass repaired. Here's a pix of Odom (and me) when he landed.

Capt. Martin, Bill Odom and myself, Bill DeAngelis
(Photos Courtesy of Bill DeAngelis)

July 24, 2007

Hello, I saw an article in August Air & Space about the "Waikiki Beach" Bonanza. It reminded me of the 49 Cleveland Air Race. I hold a commercial pilot certificate earned on the GI Bill 1948. I was in Cleveland and saw the whole crash of Bill in his P 51, went to the home and photographed the crash cite. Very sad day, it ended the Cleveland Air Races .The Beautiful P 51 called Begin the Beguine. It was one of the high lights of the show. During the race Bill was doing a great job of flying the plane and was turning on the pylon near the Show. He saw that he was going to cut inside the pylon that would have disqualified him. He made a sharp right turn to clear the pylon and as he cleared it he made a sharp left turn around the pylon and went into a sickening high speed wing over stall; to the right and crashed straight down into a housing project of one family homes. two shots of plane and one of hole which plane made with foam being poured into it. I have several other crash scene shots. Sorry about this tragedy, but information about it is short. Pictures to follow. (see below)

Ralph Pyle M. Photog. Cr CPP
1309 Clearview Drive
Richmond, IN 47374
765 962 5722

Here are three photos provided by Ralph. Thanks Ralph.

Begin the Beguine
Jacqueline Cochran - owner
Bill Odom Pilot
Cleveland Air Race 1949, Pyle Photos

October 31, 2008

Hello Tom,

Tonight, I am reading through my Great Grandmother Marion Mackie Wood's 1949 diary, and came across the name Bill Odom. I thought I'd look it up on the internet, and found this site of yours.

Here is what Grandma had written in her March 8, 1949 diary:
"Bill Odom expects to land in Peterboro N.J. after flying non stop from Hawaii. He's over Indiana, now-badly iced up tho-Hope he makes it."
Later the same day Grandma entered: "Bill Odom landed after a flight of 36 hours 1 minute from Hawaii at Peterboro N. Jersey- 5000 miles."

Although I had never heard of Bill Odom until reading his name in Grandma's diary, I realize now he was evidently a very important person in his time for Grandma to have heard about him in Northern Lower Michigan where she lived way out in the country.

Grandma wrote in her September 6, 1949 entry: "Bill Odum the round the world flyer was killed in Cleveland races yesterday. Too bad."

I lived close by to my Great Grandma, and she was a dear, dear person. She wrote in her diary every day. Her son, my Great Uncle, became a young barnstormer, and then later on, became one of the first VPs for Eastern Airlines in Miami FL, living there most of the rest of his life. So, Grandma, always forward looking, had an interest in flying, and what was happening with flying around the world.

Karla Buckmaster
Petoskey MI

September 3, 2009

Bill was born October 21, 1919 and died September 5, 1949. He was 29 years old.

William P. Odom (Bill) was born in Warner, Oklahoma in 1919 and was brought up in Missouri. The early Odom families settled around Dixon, Missouri. Happy to answer any questions I can about Bill, I know he met Wiley Post in Tulsa when he was a teenager. Post was impressed with the kid and gave him an autographed piece of the fabric off his Winnie Mae and Bill told Post her was going to fly around the world himself someday.

From Bill Odom- The Man Who Broke Wiley Post Record. Bill started in aviation as a weather forecaster for a major airlines. Learned to fly at KC Municipal Airport and sold airplanes on the side.

And lots, lots more about him has been given to me from various researchers.

Lola Clark - a cousin of Bill Odom's

November 30, 2009

When I was just a kid, my dad worked at the Cleveland Air Races and he was able to get me in to see the show in 1946, 47, 48 and 49. I attended the show in 1949 on the day before Bill Odom was killed and the plane he was flying was the most beautiful plane I had ever seen. Green was always my favorite color and the deep emerald green color of his plane with the gold musical staff and lettering of the "Beguine" immediately caught my eye and I spent considerable time just staring at it. It burned an image in my eye that I have never forgotten.

A couple of years ago, I attended the Cleveland Air Show and there was a tent there maintained by some sort of airplane historical society. They had books with pictures of famous people and airplanes and included was a picture they attributed to being Bill Odom's Beguine plane. I was stunned. I think it was a blue corsair but might have been Bill's earlier P-47. I told the elderly gentlemen there that the picture is in error but they insisted that their picture was of the plane flown by Bill Odom that crashed. I was dumbfounded and thought I was losing my marbles. How could I have been so wrong over all these years?

I mentioned this dilemma to my barber today and it made me think about checking this out on the Internet. I can't tell you how thrilled it has been to discover your web site and finally the confirmation that I was right all along. Thanks for being here.

Ron Everett
27904 Blossom Lane
North Olmsted, OH 44070-1723
Tel: 440-779-1612

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Background music to this page can be controlled here.
And on the top of the chart in 1940 was, "Begin The Beguine"
<bgsound src="beginthebeguine02.mp3" loop=infinite>

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