Pilot Chuck Yeager, the first to break the sound barrier, died at 97

Pilot Chuck Yeager, the first to break the sound barrier, died at 97

Retired Air Force Brigadier General. Charles (Chuck) Yeager, a WWII fighter pilot and quintessential test pilot who showed he had “the right things” died when, in 1947, he became the first person to fly supersonic. He was 97 years old.

His wife, Victoria Yeager, said on her Twitter account that he passed away Monday: “It is with deep sadness, I must tell you that my love, my life for General Chuck Yeager, passed away shortly before 9 PM ET. A wonderful life is living well, the greatest life in America will remain. The pilot and a legacy of strength, adventure and patriotism are forever remembered. “

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said in a statement, describing the death as “a terrible loss for our nation.”

“General Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit has enhanced America’s capabilities in the sky and defined our nation’s dreams of flying in the age of aircraft and the space age. He said, ‘You don’t focus on risks. You focus on results. There are no risks too. Great for preventing necessary work being done.” Bridenstein said in his statement.

“In an era of media-made heroes, it’s the real deal,” said Jim Young, historian of Edwards Air Force Base in August 2006, at the unveiling of a bronze Leeager statue.

The Major General said: He was “the most righteous of all those who had the right things.” Curtis Bidke, Commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield:

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Yeager, from a small town in the hills of West Virginia, has flown for more than 60 years, including flying an F-15 to nearly 1,600 km / h at Edwards in October 2002 at the age of 79.

“Living to old age is not an end in itself. The trick is to enjoy the remaining years,” Fei said. Yeager: A Biography.

“I haven’t done everything yet, but by the time I’m done, I’m not going to miss much,” he wrote. “If I start (crashing) tomorrow, it won’t be with a frown on my face. I just had a ball.”

On October 14, 1947, Yeager, then a 24-year-old captain, pushed an orange-bullet-shaped Bell X-1 missile plane to exceed 1,000 km / h to break the sound barrier, at the time an arduous flying instructor.

He said in 1968, “Sure, you were apprehensive. When you manipulate something that you don’t know much about, there has to be apprehension. But don’t let that affect your job.”

Humble Yeager said in 1947 that it would have been faster if the plane had carried more fuel. He said the ride “was nice, just like a quick ride in a car.”

Yeager called the missile plane and all his other planes “Glamorous Glennis” to his wife, who died in 1990.

Watch | Chuck Yeager on his historic journey in 1947:

In July 1985, Chuck Yeager spoke to Valerie Pringle in the middle of the day about some of his experiences as a test pilot. 2:14

Yeager’s achievement was kept a secret for nearly a year when the scientist believed the British had broken the sound barrier first.

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“It wasn’t about not having planes that fly at such speeds. It was a question of preventing them from crashing,” Yeager said.

Sixty-five years to a minute later, on October 14, 2012, Yeager celebrated the feat, flying into the back seat of an F-15 Eagle as it broke the sound barrier more than 9,144 meters above the Mojave Desert, California.

Canadian astronaut, Governor General Julie Payette:

His exploits are recounted in Tom Wolf’s book The right types And the 1983 movie that inspired him, filmed by actor Sam Shepherd, who died in 2017.

Yeager was born on February 23, 1923, in Myra, a small community located on the Mud River in the hollow depths of the Appalachian Mountains 60 kilometers southwest of Charleston. The family later moved to Hamlin, the county seat. His father worked in oil and gas drilling and farms.

Retired Air Force Brigadier General. Charles Yeager spoke to members of the media in October 2012 after a reactivation trip to commemorate his breaking of the sound barrier 65 years ago, at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. (Isaac Breckin / Associated Press)

“What really amazes me, looking at all those years, is how lucky I was, how lucky I was, for example, because I was born in 1923 and not in 1963 until I reached adulthood just as aviation itself was entering the modern era,” said Yeager. In a December 1985 speech at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

“I was just a lucky boy who rode the right ride.”

Yeager joined the Army Air Force after graduating from high school in 1941. He later expressed regret that his lack of college education prevented him from becoming an astronaut.

Shot over France

He began his career as an aircraft mechanic, and despite feeling very exhausted during his first plane flight, he was involved in a program that allowed enlisted men to become pilots.

Yeager shot down 13 German aircraft in 64 missions during World War II, including five in a single mission. He was once shot down over German-controlled France but escaped with the help of the French revolutionaries.

After the war, he became a test pilot starting at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Among the trips he made after breaking the sound barrier was one on December 12, 1953, when the X-1A flew to a record high of more than 2575 km / h. He said he woke up at dawn that day and went hunting and carried a goose before his trip. He said that that night his family ate the goose for dinner.

Yeager and actress Barbara Hershey attend a special show marking the 20th anniversary and DVD release of The Right Stuff at the Egyptian Theater on June 9, 2003 in Hollywood. (Robert Moura / Getty Images)

Yeager never forgot his roots, West Virginia named bridges, schools, and Charleston Airport after him.

“My beginnings in West Virginia tell me who I am to this day,” Yeager wrote.

“My accomplishments as a test pilot tell more about luck, serendipity, and the person’s fate. But the man who broke the sound barrier was the child who swam in the mud river with a battered watermelon or shot his head at a squirrel before going to school.”

Yeager was awarded a Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Purple Heart.

President Harry S. Truman won an Air Collier Award in December 1948 for breaking the sound barrier. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly:

Yeager retired from the Air Force in 1975 and moved to a ranch in Cedar Ridge in Northern California, where he continued to work as a consultant for the Air Force and Northrop.

He married Glennis Dickhouse of Oroville, California, on February 26, 1945. She died of ovarian cancer in December 1990. They have four children: Donald, Michael, Sharon and Susan. Yeager married 45-year-old Victoria Scott Dangelo in 2003.

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