Berea, OH plane crash, Sept 1949

Cleveland OH William Odom Plane Wreck.jpg

Globe Flyer Bill Odom Killed in Plane Crash

CLEVELAND (AP) - Globe flyer Bill Odom died Monday when his slick green racing plane plunged screaming into a Berea home, killing a mother and fatally injuring her baby son.

The tragic finish to Odom's flying career, already rich with records came early in his attempt to add one more laurel - the Thompson trophy, rated at the top of closed course competition - during th 20th anniversary National Air races.

Odom was flying an expensively modified air force fighter owned by Jacqueline Cochran, herself a veteran racer and the wife of Floyd B. Odlum, New York financier.

Flipped on Back

His plane had flipped on its back as he swereved to correct a course error. He was doing better than 400 miles an hour at the time and a fellow pliot [sic] saw his dark plane screech into a house, floowed by a burst of smoke.

Mrs. Jeanne Laird, 24, was killed and her son, Craig, was burned fatally before his grandfather rescued him. Bradley C. Laird, husband of the woman who was killed, was outside at the time. A second son, David, also was unharmed.

Tough 'Grind'

Last Saturday after his win in the Sohio race - his first try at closed course racing - the 30-year-old Odom said:

"I'd rather fly around the world twice than do one of those."

He flew 388.3 miles an hour in the Saturday race and said it was like "cramming all the fun of a three-day, round the world flight into 15 minutes.

That was a grind. You are making constant turns, and it takes a great deal of physical force from the pilot - or maybe I'm just weak."

Odom, a veteran of dangerous flying, flew the Himalaya hump for a Chinese airline and made many aircraft ferrying flights for the military during the war.

In 1947 he took a two engine light bomber, an air force Douglas A-26 marauder named "Bombshell," around the world in the record time of 88 hours 55 minutes with Milton Reynolds, Chicago pen manufacturer, as a passenger.

Broke Own Record

Taking the same plane the same year he went around solo in 73 hours. Originally he had beaten the record held by Howard Hughes, the famed pilot, motion picture producer and manufacturer.

The second time he beat his own record.

The Walla Walla Union Bulletin, Walla Walla, WA 6 Sept 1949