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Thread: Bill Brennand

  1. #11

    Default Re: Bill Brennand

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrace View Post
    I was wondering if from an engineering / aero standpoint does anyone here have an explanation as to why Beguine was so unstable and had such a tough time recovering from a roll?...Was it just the obvious extra weight at the wing tips?
    Since no one else chimed in, and going off memory of what I have read... While certainly the weight at the tips would change the roll characteristics, I don't think it was the entirely, or even mostly, the plane's fault. I believe Bill Odom did not have much experience in high performance fighter aircraft. I think he told Hoover he had 13 hours. I'm not saying Odom was not a good pilot or that he could not have been good in an aircraft like Beguine; I'm just saying that at the time he was rounding the pylons in Cleveland, he lacked experience in that type of aircraft. It is like taking the winner of the Baja 1000 and putting them in a FIA Formula 1 without much track time. The person may be skilled and gifted and untimely shine, but that first race will probably not end well for them, because it is completely different to what they have experienced before. There are reports that state Odom was shaken after flights, admitted to being in over his head (to Hoover), and said that he was going to walk away after Cleveland.

    I think Odom was put into a situation that he had not learned how to quickly recover from.
    Bill Pearce

    Old Machine Press
    Blue Thunder Air Racing (in memoriam)

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Bill Brennand

    From what I have read he had a LOT of multi-engine large aircraft time, but like you said very little fighter time and no previous pylon experience. Add what was probably a slightly twitchy aircraft and no altitude to recover from an mistake and...

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Bill Brennand

    Quote Originally Posted by W J Pearce View Post
    Since no one else chimed in, and going off memory of what I have read... While certainly the weight at the tips would change the roll characteristics, I don't think it was the entirely, or even mostly, the plane's fault. I believe Bill Odom did not have much experience in high performance fighter aircraft. I think he told Hoover he had 13 hours. I'm not saying Odom was not a good pilot or that he could not have been good in an aircraft like Beguine; I'm just saying that at the time he was rounding the pylons in Cleveland, he lacked experience in that type of aircraft. It is like taking the winner of the Baja 1000 and putting them in a FIA Formula 1 without much track time. The person may be skilled and gifted and untimely shine, but that first race will probably not end well for them, because it is completely different to what they have experienced before. There are reports that state Odom was shaken after flights, admitted to being in over his head (to Hoover), and said that he was going to walk away after Cleveland.

    I think Odom was put into a situation that he had not learned how to quickly recover from.
    Thanks for the reply...I was reading on the air racing history site that seems to have accounts of another pilot having flown it prior to the Cleveland Race named Paul Penrose that said it had serious roll rate issues (I think I read that right)...I imagine that combined with your explanation regarding Odoms skill set would have caused the final result.

  4. #14

    Default Re: Bill Brennand

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrace View Post
    Thanks for the reply...I was reading on the air racing history site that seems to have accounts of another pilot having flown it prior to the Cleveland Race named Paul Penrose that said it had serious roll rate issues (I think I read that right)...I imagine that combined with your explanation regarding Odoms skill set would have caused the final result.
    From Mustang by Carter and Matthews

    JD Reed built up Beguine with secret funding from Walter Beech. Penrose did the initial flight testing and encountered aileron buzz on the first flight. NAA said to rebalance the ailerons. They were and that fixed the vibration. Joe Howard was now flying Beguine. He ran out of fuel an bellied it into a field on the way to Cleveland in 1948. Penrose was supposed to be the only one flying Beguine and was fired once Howard dinged it up. Ken Cooley was now selected as the pilot. Once Beguine was repaired, test runs were made for an attempt on the 3 km record. Cooley was to fly in the 1949 races at Cleveland but Jackie Cochran and Floyd Odlum (Jackie's husband) purchased the plane and selected Bill Odom as pilot. Odom was known to both Cochran and Beech. Beech wanted out of the Beguine deal (quick) before his wife found out he was involved.

    Reed said Odom's flight in the Sohio race was sloppy. Reed and Beech talked to Odom after the race and Reed said he was "shaken a bit." Part of the reason is that the plane was set up for Cooley who was shorter than Odom, so Odom was cramped in the cockpit. Reed tried to talked Odom into switching planes with Cooley, who was flying Reed's stockish P-51 Jay Dee, and Odom would still get any winnings from Beguine. Odom declined.

    Cochran, feeling the same way, brought in Benny Howard to assist. Benny proposed to watch the race from a DC-3 and work with Odom over the radio. Benny also gave Odom other advice. The book states that from the take-off Odom was behind the curve and that it was an over-correction of a mistake that put him inverted and down.

    In Forever Flying, Hoover states that he was was in talks with Cochran to fly Beguine, but that Odom got hired. Before the Sohio race, Odom told Hoover that he would leave racing to the fighter pilots. Hoover asked him how many hours he had in fighters, and Odom responded "13."

    Kinert in Racing Planes states Beguine's clipped ailerons brought the stick forces to critical values, Odom flew the Sohio race, his first, for practice, and that Odom "...should never have been in the race because of insufficient racing practice."

    I would imagine Beguine was not a docile aircraft. But Penrose, Howard, and Cooley all flew the plane without issue, and Hoover was willing too. Reed, Beech, Cochran, Benny Howard, and Hoover all seemed to feel that Odom was flying an aircraft beyond his current abilities. I think Odom was a fine long-distance pilot, but he just did not have the needed experience in fighters or racing.
    Bill Pearce

    Old Machine Press
    Blue Thunder Air Racing (in memoriam)

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Bill Brennand


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