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Jacqueline Cochran

Aviation Record Holder

Born Muscogee, Florida

May 11, 1908? —August 7, 1980

Because "Jackie" Cochran was orphaned at an early age, the exact date of her birth is unknown*.

Her most distinguished aviation career began in 1932 when she obtained her pilot's license with only three weeks of instruction. From this time onward, her life was one of total dedication to aviation. After her first air race in 1934, she was respected by all for her competitive spirit and high skill. Her performance in the aviation events of the 1930's is legendary. Among her last flight activities was the establishment in 1964 of a record of 1,429 MPH in the F-104 Starfighter.

At the beginning of World War II, she became a Wing Commander in the British Auxiliary Transport Service ferrying U.S. built Hudson bombers to England. With the U.S. entry into the War, she offered her services to the Army Air Corps and formed the famed Women's Air Force Service Pilots. This group, more than 1000 strong played a major role in the delivery of aircraft to the combat areas throughout the world. For this service, she was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal.

Some of the honors she has been accorded include the Harmon Trophy, the General William E. Mitchell Award, Gold Medal of the Federation Aeronautique, and decorations from numerous countries.

Invested 1965 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

*A writer to the website sent the following:

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.


*Another writer, Mamie Pittman's son, writes the following in an email to the ALLSTAR website,dated 19 October 2000:

I agree with the writers comment about Jackie's family.
Mamie Pittman Hydle , Jackies Sister was my mother. I have met Jackie many times. In 1956, Jackie flew my mother (Mamie) and me to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque NM for a cataract operation. We were there for a month. Jackie rented a car for me to drive, and paid all of the expenses. We flew home on a TWA commercial liner (the old 3 tailed
Aunt Jackie was ashamed of her early poverty and made up the story of being abducted and/or orphaned. Aunt Jackie brought any of the family that wanted to come out to California in 1935 / 36. I was born in Indio in 1937, the youngest child of Mamie and Jesse Hydle. We lived in Indio CA on one of Jackie's farms until I was almost 5 years old then we moved to Escondido CA. when the desert heat became too much for my father.   Jackie gave a story to Life magazine (July 16, 1954). In it she gave the 'made up' story of her life. This story so humiliated my mother she almost had a nervous breakdown and eventually developed bleeding ulcers and had most of her stomach removed. This affected her the rest of her life.
Jackie used to send us a 5 pound box of dates from Indio, a package of her cosmetics "Wings" and a $50 check each Christmas. This is the only contact she would allow.  The sad part of this is that now almost everyone who knew the truth has passed away. My mother and Father died in 1970/71 My older sister Willie Mae died of cancer about 1961 and my two older brothers are gone also.
Most of the pictures and other things have been lost or scattered between my parent's grand children. Floyd Odlam, Jackie's husband is gone and so is Jackie.  I guess at this late date it doesn't matter. Jackie did a lot of good
things. She was very disappointed when she failed to be elected to Congress.  It would be nice, however, to set the record straight.

Jerry Hydle


*Mamie Pittman's granddaughter writes the following in an email to the ALLSTAR website, dated 03 September 2001:

I just found this web site as some family kin was working on the family tree and informed me of it. It's true, Aunt Jackie does have a real family. She was never orphaned, she just made the story up to be excepted by the East Coast's "high society." It sounded better than saying she was just a poor mill workers daughter. My Grandmother was Mamie, sister to Bessie (Jackie), and Myrtle, and two brothers. My mother was just a few years younger than Aunt Jackie, and more like a younger sister to her than a niece, and the family all lived together in the same house. My mother was about 3 years old or so when Aunt Jackie came home with the doll she had won from the store. My mother cried and wanted the doll, so my Great-grandfather made Aunt Jackie give her the doll. I have a picture of my mother with the doll when she was about three. My mother had kept the doll and when my mother was about 18, Aunt Jackie offered to bring my Mom to New York and care for her while she attended Business College, but the one condition was that my mother give her back the doll, which she did. Aunt Jackie had the doll "restored," and kept it all of her remaining years. Her request upon her death was that she be laid to rest in a "pine box" as had her dad that she loved with all her heart, and that the doll be buried with her, which it was. Aunt Jackie had developed her love for planes as they lived next to the Air Force Base in Pensacola, Florida. That is also where she met her first husband, Jack Cochran. He later died, but they had a son who had burned up in the "outhouse" when he was about 5 yrs. old. He had gotten a hold of some matches and started the fire. Aunt Jackie almost went nuts over that, and after his death is when she left for the East Coast, and made up her false past. She also took the first name, Jacqueline. She met Uncle Floyd at a party, and he is the one who paid for the flying lessons that she wanted so bad. He bought her the Cosmetic Company, then he divorced his wife, left his two children and made a life with Aunt Jackie, and she lived her "fairy tale life." The advise she gave my mother was "you can fall in love with a rich man just as easy as you can a poor one". My mothers name was Willie Mae and she is mentioned in both of Aunt Jackie's books. My older sister was the "little girl" that was in the plane mishap that was also mentioned in the book. Everyone that knew Aunt Jackie well, knew of her family. Most of the family just stayed away from her, and some of them remained close to her. When my Grandmother was very ill and we thought was dying, I went and asked Aunt Jackie to please come and visit my Grandmother and she said she couldn't because she had to go to an "Air Show in France," etc., etc., etc. She said she kept tabs my Grandma and the rest of us in Escondido through a friend that lived there, but she wouldn't tell me who that person was. Just before I left, I told her that I didn't care how big her bank account was or how many accomplishments she had in her life, "my Grandma was the rich one." I never saw her after that, although I did keep her informed of my Grandma's medical condition. When my Grandma died, Aunt Jackie I believe was in France for the Air Show. She sent flowers and her condolences........... When Aunt Jackie was dying, the only one who really stayed by her side was her cousin Nell (Alford, Myrtle's daughter).

Norma Denny


*Jackie Cochran's Nephew writes the following in an email to the ALLSTAR website, dated 10 May 2002:

I would like to clarify the early life of Jacqueline Cochran. She was my Aunt, the sister of my father. She was born to Molly and Ira Pittman May 11,1906. She was never orphaned. My sister, Billy Jean Pittman Ayers has written the true story of Aunt Jackie's life and the name of the book is "Superwoman" published by 1st Books (ISBN: 0-75966-763-2). Her birth name was Bessie Pittman grew up around DeFuniak Springs, Fla.

Gordan Pittman

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