In 1947 the Sound Barrier was thought to be a physical phenomenon
Chuck Yeager broke the Speed of Sound
ICON: military career, combat hero, premier test pilot
Tom Wolfe. The collection of materials about Gen. Yeager contains so many words that a reader would have to be capable of reading at the speed of light to consume all of the library.
The General was brave or is it fearless; a character; the consummate stick and rudder man of his age; without an engineering degree, a skillful translator of flight experience to the quantitative experts who designed test planes; and from all accounts, a great guy.
God bless Chuck Yaeger, but the man above already has been in close proximity to this premier test pilot.
Below are some quotes from others praising Chuck and from the West Virginian about his career; select obituaries; and a gallery of photographs.
“Chuck Yeager, the most famous test pilot of his generation, who was the first to break the sound barrier and, thanks to Tom Wolfe, came to personify the death-defying aviator who possessed the elusive yet unmistakable “right stuff,”…
“Nonetheless, the exploit ranked alongside the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 and Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight to Paris in 1927 as epic events in the history of aviation…”
“Yeager’s death is “a tremendous loss to our nation,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
“Gen. Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America’s abilities in the sky and set our nation’s dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age. He said, ‘You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done,’” Bridenstine said.
“In an age of media-made heroes, he is the real deal,” Edwards Air Force Base historian Jim Young said in August 2006 at the unveiling of a bronze statue of Yeager.
He was “the most righteous of all those with the right stuff,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards.
Yeager was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. President Harry S. Truman awarded him the Collier air trophy in December 1948 for his breaking the sound barrier. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.
“After all the anticipation to achieve this moment, it really was a letdown,” General Yeager wrote in his best-selling memoir “Yeager” (1985, with Leo Janos). “There should’ve been a bump in the road, something to let you know that you had just punched a nice, clean hole through the sonic barrier. The Ughknown was a poke through Jell-O. Later on, I realized that this mission had to end in a letdown because the real barrier wasn’t in the sky but in our knowledge and experience of supersonic flight.”
“All I know is I worked my tail off learning to learn how to fly, and worked hard at it all the way,” he wrote. “If there is such a thing as the right stuff in piloting, then it is experience. The secret to my success was that somehow I always managed to live to fly another day.”
After test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier, he confessed to the highly un-Yeager-like emotion of fear.
“I was scared,” he wrote in a memoir, “knowing that many of my colleagues thought I was doomed to be blasted to pieces by an invisible brick wall in the sky. But I noticed that the faster I got, the smoother the ride. Suddenly, the Mach needle began to fluctuate, then tipped right off the scale.”
For 18 seconds on Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager was supersonic — a feeling he later likened to “a poke through Jell-O.” The achievement made Yeager an aeronautic legend — “the foremost in the Olympus,” according to author Tom Wolfe, “the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff.”
“His first airplane ride was inauspicious.
“I took a spin with a maintenance officer,” he recalled. “I threw up all over the place.”
“Yeager didn’t go to Pancho’s and knock back a few because the big test was coming up,” Wolfe wrote. “No, he knocked back a few because, in keeping with the military tradition of flying and drinking, that was what you did if you were a pilot at Muroc and the sun went down.”
Riding on horseback with Glennis in the dark, Yeager crashed into a gate and broke two ribs. In pain, he had himself taped up by a veterinarian friend, who pledged to keep the mishap secret.
Two days later, Yeager was strapped inside the X-1. Because of the rib fractures, his movement was limited but he managed to close the cockpit hatch with a chunk of broomstick an engineer friend had sawed off for that purpose.
The Father Of Supersonic Flight Has A 72nd Anniversary Of Breaking The Sound Barrier- Where Are We Today?
A World War II fighter ace and Air Force general, he was, according to Tom Wolfe, “the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff.”
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