Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran Odlum (c.1908*-1970)

Image in Preparation Jacqueline Cochran

Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran was born in 1910 in Pensacola, Florida. Jackie's life changed when she discovered, at the age of six, that the family she had lived with were her foster parents. Her foster family was rearing her for an unknown woman in exchange for a small tract of land.

She later learned that her real name may have been Bessie Lee Pittman. She never revealed her foster family's name nor how she received the name Jacqueline. She chose her last name, Cochran, from a phone book.

In 1932, Jackie Cochran began taking flying lessons at Roosevelt Field on Long Island. When she began taking the lessons she said, "a beauty operator ceased to exist and an aviator was born." On the third day of her lessons, she soloed. She obtained her license in two and a half weeks. After receiving her license, she bought a Travelair plane and began taking additional flying lessons from Ted Marshall, a Navy pilot. ...more

*Note : discusses her birthdate [Ed. 08/2002]

A Cochran Controversy? : None of the following has been substantiated by AeroFiles, but it has made the rounds on the Internet, finally showing up in our emailbox, and this is presented here merely as another possible contention in historical data for whatever value it serves. Judge for yourself, but note that there are no names, dates, supportive evidence, or supplied reference source:

"Jackie Cochran was not an orphan nor was she adopted. She was born May 11, 1906. Jackie was close to her sister Mamie Pittman, and even had Mamie move with her husband Jesse Hydle to her home in Indio, California. Mamie and Jesse lived in DeFuniak Springs, Florida before moving to California. All of Jessie and Mamie's children knew Aunt Jackie. They have family pictures with Jackie and kept many of her letters. Jackie used to send her sister, Mamie, flowers on her birthday. Like the movie stars, Jackie changed her name to Cochran. The Pittman children, including Jackie and Mamie, grew up together in the same home. They had the same biological mother and father and lived with the same parents. There were no adopted children, not foster children, and none of the children were adopted out, sent out or fostered out." ...more

Jacqueline Cochran

At the time of her death in 1980, Jacqueline Cochran held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other male or female pilot in aviation history. She grew up in poverty in the Florida panhandle and left her job in the cotton mills when she was ten for a live-in position at a beauty salon. By the early 1930's, Cochran worked her way up to beautician at fashionable Antoine's in the Saks Fifth Avenue stores in New York City and Miami.

Cochran then established her own cosmetics company and learned to fly at the suggestion of her future husband, millionaire Floyd Odlum. In 1932, she received her license after only three weeks of lessons and immediately pursued advanced instruction. Cochran set three major flying records in 1937 and won the prestigious Bendix Race in 1938. ...more

Cochran, Jacqueline
Microsoft(R) Encarta. Copyright(c) 1995 Microsoft Corporation.

Cochran, Jacqueline, American aviator and business executive, born in Pensacola, Florida. An orphan, she left her foster home and went to work at an early age. By 1935 she had a pilot's license and her own cosmetics firm. Cochran holds many records.

She was the first woman to fly in the Bendix Trophy Transcontinental Race (1934), to win it (1938), to pilot a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean (1941), to receive the Distinguished Service Medal (1945, as head of Women's Airforce Service Pilots of World War II) , to break the sound barrier (1953), to take off from and land on an aircraft carrier (1960), to attain a flying speed of 1355 km/hr (842 mph) (1961), and to serve as president of the Fèdèration Aèronautique Internationale (she was elected in 1959).

As a pilot, Cochran received more than 200 awards and trophies. Her autobiography, The Stars at Noon, was published in 1954.

1934 Northrop Gamma 2G
Jacqueline Cochran - Pilot

Here we get a very nice scarce full side view of the famous Gamma 2G parked on the flightline. This particular aircraft was built as a 2-place Gamma with in-line, liquid cooled Curtiss Conqueror engine. Ordered by Jacqueline Cochran for entry in MacRobertson Race to Australia to be held in October 1934. Was a starter in 1935 Bendix Transcontinental Race with Jackie Cochran, but made forced landing at Kingman, AR. Then leased to Howard R. Hughes, whose Hughes Development Company installed 3 new gas tanks, a 3-bladed propeller, & Wright Cyclone SGR-1820 G-5 eng. # 21227. Hughes set new west-east transcontinental speed record, 9 hrs., 26 min., 10 sec., on 1/13-14/36. Accident 7/10/36, Indianapolis, IN.

Pilot Jackie Cochran. Motor cut out after takeoff, nosed over in landing & motor torn out. (Credit: The Northrop Story)

Jacqueline Cochran

A decorated pilot, Cochran, at the time of her death, held more aviation records than any other pilot-male or female-in history.

An orphan, Cochran went to work in a Georgia cotton mill at age 8. By age 10 she was training to be a hair stylist. After working in several salons in the South, Cochran landed in New York City in the early 1930s. She first took flying lessons in 1932 and was instantly hooked. She established a cosmetics company in 1934. It prospered, thus allowing her to pursue her passion for flying. In 1935 Cochran competed in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race. She placed third in 1937 and won the race in 1938.

In 1941 she flew a bomber to England, where she became a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary, training other women pilots to ferry aircraft for the British. She returned to the United States and organized and served as director of a similar program, the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs). She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945 and commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1948. ...more

Cochran, Jacqueline

Born in Florida, she was adopted by a 'poor white' family and led a harsh life as a child. She worked in cotton mills, and then as a hairdresser. In 1932 she decided to learn to fly after meeting an aviator, Floyd Odlum, who later became her husband.

Her first flying experiment was in 1934 when she went up to over 30,000 metros in a biplane with canvas wings and an unheated, non-pressurized cockpit, trying to inhale oxygen through a tube which burst. For the next 30 years she preferred to try mainly for speed records, and held more of these than any other woman.

She was the first woman to enter the trans-American Bendix Race in 1935, and won it in 1938 in an untried Seversky fighter. She was awarded the Harmon Trophy six times, as most distinguished aviator of the year, among other awards, and in 1971 became the only living woman in the American Aviation Hall of Fame. ...more

Cochran, Jacqueline

During her career Jacqueline Cochrane set more speed, distance, and altitude records than any other aviator.

She was born in Pensacola, Florida. Orphaned at an early age, she was brought up by a poor family in Columbus, Georgia, leaving school when she was eight years old in order to work in a cotton mill. At the age of 14 she started work in a beauty salon; having learned the trade, she moved to New York to work in the cosmetics industry.

In 1932, at the suggestion of the flyer, banker, and industrialist Floyd Odlum (whom she married in 1936), Jacqueline Cochran took time off work to learn to fly. After quickly qualifying for her pilot's licence, in 1934 she sought to promote her new cosmetics business by attempting to set a new altitude record. Her failure to do so prompted her instead to concentrate on breaking speed records. ...more

Jacqueline Cochran

On May 18, 1953 aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran (Inducted in 1968) became the first woman to pilot an aircraft supersonically. She broke the sound barrier, traveling 625.5 miles per hour, in an F-86 Sabre and joined the previously male dominated "supersonic club." On June 3, 1964 Cochran piloted an F-104G Starfighter at twice the speed of sound. She established a woman's world speed record of 1,429 miles per hour during this flight.

Cochran learned to fly at the age of 22 in order to pursue a cosmetics business. She soon caught racing fever and competed in numerous races during the late 1930's and early 1940's. Cochran earned several air records, including the women's west to east transcontinental speed record, altitude records, first woman to make a blind landing and first to fly a warplane across the Atlantic Ocean. From 1938 to 1940 she received the Clifford Burke Harmon Trophy as the outstanding woman flier in the world. During World War II Cochran served with the British Air Transport Auxiliary. ...more

Cochran, Jacqueline, aviator and business leader

Born in Pensacola, Florida, about 1910, Jacqueline Cochran grew up in poverty in a foster home. At age eight she went to work in a cotton mill in Georgia; she later was trained as a beautician and pursued that career in Montgomery, Alabama, in Pensacola, and from roughly 1931 in New York City. She took her first flying lessons in 1932 and soon mastered the technical aspects of aviation and navigation, later studying privately with a navy pilot friend in San Diego, California.

Meanwhile, in 1934, she organized a cosmetics firm that grew and prospered under her management until she sold it in 1963. In 1935 Cochran became the first woman to enter the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race; in 1937 she came in third, and in 1938 she won the Bendix Trophy, flying a Seversky pursuit plane. In June 1941 she piloted a bomber to England and there, as a flight captain in the British Air Transport Auxiliary, trained a group of female pilots for war transport service. ...more

Jackie Cochran

The name Amelia Earhart is synonymous with aviation folklore. Interestingly, Jackie Cochran is not. Born around 1913 (She didn't know her actual birth date), Jackie (She didn't know her actual birth name) was orphaned to a family who worked in the clothing mills of the South. Jackie started working full time in one of these mills at age 8.

Knowing that the key to independence was money, Jackie applied herself, and at age 11, became a hairdressing apprentice. At 14, fully trained in hairdressing, she picked the name Jaqueline Cochran out of a phone book and set off to make her fortune in New York City. She also started a cosmetics business. ...more

Jackie Cochran

At 2:23pm on September 23, 1938, with the equivalent of just a few minutes more gas left in her tanks, Jackie Cochran's silver P-35 shot across the finish line in the challenging, transcontinental Bendix Race. The triumphant former beautician had just won the cross-country race, completing the 2,042 miles from Los Angeles to Cleveland in just eight hours, ten minutes and thirty-one seconds. Using an innovative, new fuel system, she chalked up another first by becoming the first pilot to finish the course non-stop.

Within a year Cochran was awarded, for the second time, the most prestigious prize given to American women aviators: the women's Harmon trophy. She'd also broken a women's altitude record, climbing to 33,000 feet, and she'd broken several speed records. When Cochran was asked what fueled her ambitions she would reply: "I might have been born in a hovel, but I determined to travel with the wind and the stars." ...more

Jacqueline Cochran Odlum (c.1908- 1970)

by Derek Horne

Jacqueline Cochran Odlum is a legend in aviation history. There are few, if any aviators who have accomplished so much or set and held as many aviation records. Yet, if you ask anyone to name a famous aviatrix, nine times out of ten he or she will name Amelia Earhart. Jackie who? They retort as one proceeds to describe an aviation legend. Major General Fred J. Ascani said of Jackie's ability "There are cautious pilots who never want to know what the plane's maximum performance is and then there are pilots like Yeager & Cochran"

Born around 1906 (Jackie Cochran did not know her exact date of birth) in Florida, Jackie grew up never knowing her natural parents. She spent her early years with a foster family in Florida, her bed was at best a pallet on the floor, and sometimes it was just the floor. Jackie was 8 years old before she had her first pair of shoes. Working in a textile mill when she was about 10 years old, she had the following encounter...

"I didn't see him coming, but a foreman was suddenly over me and pinching me in a way that no little girl should ever be pinched. My reaction was immediate and not surprising. My fist flew up and I hit him squarely on the nose. Hard. He jumped back and then rushed away, shocked. He never touched me again. What I don't quite understand is why he didn't fire me"

Jackie never finished her schooling; in fact her formal education lasted only 2 years. She could not even write and in latter years would take the exam for her pilot's licence orally. ...more

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