Jacqueline Cochran Odlum, 73, and aviation pioneer who was regarded for many years as the world's leading aviatrix and was a former cosmetics manufacturer, died Saturday at her 800-acre ranch in Coachella, Calif.
Mrs. Odlum had worn a pacemaker since suffering a heart attack 10 years ago. A family spokesman said she had been in ill health for the past month and a half.
The former president of Jacqueline Cochran, Inc., manufacturers and distributors of cosmetics and perfume, she became a world-famous figure for her aviation feats.
She began her flying career in 1932 and won her first major air race, the Bendix transcontinental, in 1938.
In 1941, before the United States entered World War II, she became the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic as a captain in the Royal Air Force auxiliary. After Pearl Harbor, she returned to this country to teach women to fly transport planes.
In 1943, she was named commander of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS). When the WASPS were phased out, she became a war correspondent for Liberty magazine.
She resumed speed flying in the late 1940s. In 1953, she became the first woman pilot to break the sound barrier, flying an F-86 Sabre Jet fighter.
She also set three flying records that year and, in 1961, set an altitude record of 53,253 feet. In 1964, she set a world speed record of 1,429 miles per hour flying an F104G Superstar jet plane.
Mrs. Odlum established so many flight records, principally for speed, that she was awarded the Clifford Burke Harmon trophy of the International League of Aviators as the outstanding woman aviator in the world for three successive years, 1937 through 1939.
In 1956, after receiving many of aviation's highest awards, she ran unsuccessfully for California's 29th congressional district seat.
She had lived in California since her marriage in 1936 to the late Floyd Odlum, a California rancher.
During her flying career, Mrs. Odlum received the Gen. Billy Mitchell award for her contribution to aviation progress.
Mrs. Odlum received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945, as a civilian. She later received a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, from which she retired in 1970 with the rank of colonel.
She was born in a sawmill camp in northern Florida and orphaned at an early age. As a child she worked in cotton mills in Georgia and had earned her own living ever since.
She established her own cosmetics firm after working as a beauty operator in a small-town beauty shop and later in New York City. She sold her cosmetics business in 1964.
Mrs. Odlum also was a director of Northeast Airlines and was voted "Woman of the Year in Business" in Associated Press polls in 1953 and 1954.
Her only survivors are grandchildren of her late husband, Floyd Odlum, by a previous marriage.