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Designer, Builder of Spruce Goose Dies

January 13, 1987

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ Glenn ″Ode″ Odekirk, the designer and builder of Howard Hughes’ giant ″Spruce Goose″ flying boat which flew only once, has died at age 81.

Odekirk, who died of cancer Monday at Nathan Adelson Hospice, was a former superintendent of Hughes Aircraft Co. and a friend and co-pilot of the late billionaire.

In a 1981 interview, he said he developed the idea of a flying boat while to ship builder Henry Kaiser talk in 1942 about how fast his ships were being blown up by German submarines.

″Well, I guess I’ll have to put wings on my boat,″ Odekirk recalled Kaiser saying.

Odekirk recalled working a deal with Hughes and Kaiser to design and build flying cargo boats that could pass over the German subs.

An $18 million government contract was given to Hughes’ aircraft operation to build three experimental flying ships.

Only one was built.

The plane, built out of wood, weighed 200 tons and had a wingspan slightly longer than a football field. It was 218 feet long and 79 feet high.

On Nov. 2, 1947, five years after design work began on the HK-1 Hercules, Hughes took the plane on a brief flight 70 feet above the water.

The ″Spruce Goose″ now serves as a museum and is located next to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.

Odekirk was also a co-pilot for Hughes when the billionaire flew a record transcontinental flight for transport planes in 1938.

Odekirk is survived by one daughter and one sister. Private funeral services are planned.

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