Charles Yeager 1923- Record- Breaking Aviator - History

Charles Yeager 1923- Record- Breaking Aviator - History

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Charles Yeager


Record- Breaking Aviator

Yeager was born on February 13, 1923. During World War II he was fighter pilot flyig P-51's. His plae was shot down over France, but he mangaged to escape via Spain and returned to England On October 12, 1944 he became first pilot to become an ace in one day downing five German aircraft in one day. He ended the war with 11.5 kills. After the war he became a test pilot. Chuck Yeager flew into the history books in 1947 when the then-captain and former World War II fighter pilot became the first person to break the sound barrier, with a speed of 700 miles per hour.

In 1953, Yeager set another record, flying at a speed of 1,650 miles per hour. Yeager became an squadron commander and commanded a number of fighter squadrons. he became the first commander of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School. Yeagar continued to fly as a squadron commander of air force planes that fought in Vietnam. Yeagar retired from the airforce in 1975 after serving for 33 years in the service.

Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier

U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.

For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. All that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The rocket plane, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis” (after Yeager&aposs wife), was designed with thin, unswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.


Yeager was born February 13, 1923, [2] to farming parents Susie Mae (née Sizemore 1898–1987) and Albert Hal Yeager (1896–1963) in Myra, West Virginia. [3] When he was five years old, his family moved to Hamlin, West Virginia. Yeager had two brothers, Roy and Hal Jr., and two sisters, Doris Ann (accidentally killed at age two by six-year-old Roy playing with a shotgun) [4] [5] [6] and Pansy Lee.

He attended Hamlin High School, where he played basketball and football, receiving his best grades in geometry and typing. He graduated from high school in June 1941. [7]

His first experience with the military was as a teen at the Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana, during the summers of 1939 and 1940. On February 26, 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse, and the couple had four children. Glennis died in 1990. [8]

World War II Edit

Yeager enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) on September 12, 1941, and became an aircraft mechanic at George Air Force Base, Victorville, California. At enlistment, Yeager was not eligible for flight training because of his age and educational background, but the entry of the U.S. into World War II less than three months later prompted the USAAF to alter its recruiting standards. Yeager had unusually sharp vision (a visual acuity rated 20/10), which once enabled him to shoot a deer at 600 yd (550 m). [11]

At the time of his flight training acceptance, he was a crew chief on an AT-11. [12] He received his pilot wings and a promotion to flight officer at Luke Field, Arizona, where he graduated from Class 43C on March 10, 1943. Assigned to the 357th Fighter Group at Tonopah, Nevada, he initially trained as a fighter pilot, flying Bell P-39 Airacobras (being grounded for seven days for clipping a farmer's tree during a training flight), [13] and shipped overseas with the group on November 23, 1943. [14]

Stationed in the United Kingdom at RAF Leiston, Yeager flew P-51 Mustangs in combat with the 363d Fighter Squadron. He named his aircraft Glamorous Glen [15] [16] after his girlfriend, Glennis Faye Dickhouse, who became his wife in February 1945. Yeager had gained one victory before he was shot down over France in his first aircraft (P-51B-5-NA s/n 43-6763) on March 5, 1944, on his eighth mission. [17] He escaped to Spain on March 30, 1944 with the help of the Maquis (French Resistance) and returned to England on May 15, 1944. During his stay with the Maquis, Yeager assisted the guerrillas in duties that did not involve direct combat he helped construct bombs for the group, a skill that he had learned from his father. [18] He was awarded the Bronze Star for helping a navigator, Omar M. "Pat" Patterson, Jr., to cross the Pyrenees. [19]

Despite a regulation prohibiting "evaders" (escaped pilots) from flying over enemy territory again, the purpose of which was to prevent resistance groups from being compromised by giving the enemy a second chance to possibly capture him, Yeager was reinstated to flying combat. He had joined another evader, fellow P-51 pilot 1st Lt Fred Glover, [20] in speaking directly to the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on June 12, 1944. [21] "I raised so much hell that General Eisenhower finally let me go back to my squadron" Yeager said. "He cleared me for combat after D Day, because all the free Frenchmen — Maquis and people like that — had surfaced". [22] Eisenhower, after gaining permission from the War Department to decide the requests, concurred with Yeager and Glover. [23] In the meantime, Yeager shot down his second enemy aircraft, a German Junkers Ju 88 bomber, over the English Channel. [23]

Yeager demonstrated outstanding flying skills and combat leadership. On October 12, 1944, he became the first pilot in his group to make "ace in a day," downing five enemy aircraft in a single mission. Two of these kills were scored without firing a single shot: when he flew into firing position against a Messerschmitt Bf 109, the pilot of the aircraft panicked, breaking to starboard and colliding with his wingman. Yeager said both pilots bailed out. He finished the war with 11.5 official victories, including one of the first air-to-air victories over a jet fighter, a German Messerschmitt Me 262 that he shot down as it was on final approach for landing. [24] [25]

In his 1986 memoirs, Yeager recalled with disgust that "atrocities were committed by both sides", and said he went on a mission with orders from the Eighth Air Force to "strafe anything that moved". [26] [27] During the mission briefing, he whispered to Major Donald H. Bochkay, "If we are going to do things like this, we sure as hell better make sure we are on the winning side". [26] [27] Yeager said, "I'm certainly not proud of that particular strafing mission against civilians. But it is there, on the record and in my memory". [28] He also expressed bitterness at his treatment in England during World War II, describing the British as "arrogant" and "nasty". [29]

Yeager was commissioned a second lieutenant while at Leiston, and was promoted to captain before the end of his tour. He flew his 61st and final mission on January 15, 1945, and returned to the United States in early February 1945. As an evader, he received his choice of assignments and, because his new wife was pregnant, chose Wright Field to be near his home in West Virginia. His high number of flight hours and maintenance experience qualified him to become a functional test pilot of repaired aircraft, which brought him under the command of Colonel Albert Boyd, head of the Aeronautical Systems Flight Test Division. [30]

Post-World War II Edit

Test pilot – breaking the sound barrier Edit

Yeager remained in the U.S. Air Force after the war, becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base), following graduation from Air Materiel Command Flight Performance School (Class 46C). [31] After Bell Aircraft test pilot Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin demanded US$150,000 (over US$1.7 million in 2020 dollars) to break the sound "barrier", the USAAF selected Yeager to fly the rocket-powered Bell XS-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight. [32] [33]

Such was the difficulty of this task that the answer to many of the inherent challenges was along the lines of "Yeager better have paid-up insurance". [34] Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, Yeager broke two ribs when he fell from a horse. He was worried that the injury would remove him from the mission and reported that he went to a civilian doctor in nearby Rosamond, California, who taped his ribs. [35] [c] Besides his wife who was riding with him, Yeager told only his friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley about the accident. On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the X-1's hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device, using the end of a broom handle as an extra lever, to allow Yeager to seal the hatch. [36]

Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, in level flight while piloting the X-1 Glamorous Glennis at Mach 1.05 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m) [37] [d] over the Rogers Dry Lake of the Mojave Desert in California. The success of the mission was not announced to the public until June 1948. [41] Yeager was awarded the Mackay Trophy and the Collier Trophy in 1948 for his mach-transcending flight, [42] [43] and the Harmon International Trophy in 1954. [44] The X-1 he flew that day was later put on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. [45]

Yeager went on to break many other speed and altitude records. He was also one of the first American pilots to fly a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15, after its pilot, No Kum-sok, defected to South Korea. [46] [47] Returning to Muroc, during the latter half of 1953, Yeager was involved with the USAF team that was working on the X-1A, an aircraft designed to surpass Mach 2 in level flight. That year, he flew a chase aircraft for the civilian pilot Jackie Cochran as she became the first woman to fly faster than sound. [48]

On November 20, 1953, the U.S. Navy program involving the D-558-II Skyrocket and its pilot, Scott Crossfield, became the first team to reach twice the speed of sound. After they were bested, Ridley and Yeager decided to beat rival Crossfield's speed record in a series of test flights that they dubbed "Operation NACA Weep". Not only did they beat Crossfield by setting a new record at Mach 2.44 on December 12, 1953, but they did it in time to spoil a celebration planned for the 50th anniversary of flight in which Crossfield was to be called "the fastest man alive". [48]

The new record flight, however, did not entirely go to plan, since shortly after reaching Mach 2.44, Yeager lost control of the X-1A at about 80,000 ft (24,000 m) due to inertia coupling, a phenomenon largely unknown at the time. With the aircraft simultaneously rolling, pitching, and yawing out of control, Yeager dropped 51,000 ft (16,000 m) in less than a minute before regaining control at around 29,000 ft (8,800 m). He then managed to land without further incident. [48] For this achievement, Yeager was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) in 1954. [49] [e]

Military command Edit

Yeager was foremost a fighter pilot and held several squadron and wing commands. From 1954 to 1957, he commanded the F-86H Sabre-equipped 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (50th Fighter-Bomber Wing) at Hahn AB, West Germany, and Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France and from 1957 to 1960 the F-100D Super Sabre-equipped 1st Fighter Day Squadron at George Air Force Base, California, and Morón Air Base, Spain. [50]

Now a full colonel in 1962, [51] after completion of a year's studies and final thesis on STOL aircraft [52] at the Air War College, Yeager became the first commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, which produced Astronauts for NASA and the USAF, after its redesignation from the USAF Flight Test Pilot School. (Yeager himself had only a high school education, so he was not eligible to become an astronaut like those he trained.) In April 1962, Yeager flew for the only time with Neil Armstrong. Their job, flying a T-33, was to evaluate Smith Ranch Dry Lake in Nevada for use as an emergency landing site for the North American X-15. In his autobiography, Yeager wrote that he knew the lake bed was unsuitable for landings after recent rains, but Armstrong insisted on flying out anyway. As they attempted a touch-and-go, the wheels became stuck and they had to wait for rescue. [6]

Yeager's participation in the test pilot training program for NASA included controversial behavior. Yeager reportedly did not believe that Ed Dwight, the first African American pilot admitted into the program, should be a part of it. In the 2019 documentary series Chasing the Moon, the filmmakers report that Yeager instructed staff and participants at the school that "Washington is trying to cram the nigger down our throats. [President] Kennedy is using this to make 'racial equality,' so do not speak to him, do not socialize with him, do not drink with him, do not invite him over to your house, and in six months he'll be gone." [53] [54] In his autobiography, Dwight details how Yeager's leadership led to discriminatory treatment throughout his training at Edwards Air Force base. [55]

Between December 1963 and January 1964, Yeager completed five flights in the NASA M2-F1 lifting body. An accident during a December 1963 test flight in one of the school's NF-104s eventually put an end to his record attempts. [56] [ citation needed ]

In 1966, Yeager took command of the 405th Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base, the Philippines, whose squadrons were deployed on rotational temporary duty (TDY) in South Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. There he flew 127 missions. In February 1968, Yeager was assigned command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, and led the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II wing in South Korea during the Pueblo crisis. [57]

Yeager was promoted to brigadier general and was assigned in July 1969 as the vice-commander of the Seventeenth Air Force. [58]

From 1971 to 1973, at the behest of Ambassador Joseph Farland, Yeager was assigned to Pakistan to advise the Pakistan Air Force. [59] A small passenger aircraft that was assigned by the Pentagon to Yeager was damaged during an air raid by the Indian Air Force at a Pakistani airbase during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. [60] [61] Edward C. Ingraham, a U.S. diplomat who had served as political counselor to Ambassador Farland in Islamabad, recalled this incident in the Washington Monthly of October 1985: "After Yeager's Beechcraft was destroyed during an Indian air raid, he raged to his cowering colleagues that the Indian pilot had been specifically instructed by Indira Gandhi to blast his plane. "It was", he later wrote, "the Indian way of giving Uncle Sam the finger". [62] Yeager was incensed over the incident and demanded U.S. retaliation. [60] [63]

Post-retirement career Edit

On March 1, 1975, following assignments in West Germany and Pakistan, Yeager retired from the Air Force at Norton Air Force Base, California. [57]

Yeager made a cameo appearance in the movie The Right Stuff (1983). He played "Fred", a bartender at "Pancho's Place", which was most appropriate, as Yeager said, "if all the hours were ever totaled, I reckon I spent more time at her place than in a cockpit over those years". [64] Sam Shepard portrayed Yeager in the film. [65]

For several years in the 1980s, Yeager was connected to General Motors, publicizing ACDelco, the company's automotive parts division. [66] In 1986, he was invited to drive the Chevrolet Corvette pace car for the 70th running of the Indianapolis 500. In 1988, Yeager was again invited to drive the pace car, this time at the wheel of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. In 1986, President Reagan appointed Yeager to the Rogers Commission that investigated the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. [67]

During this time, Yeager also served as a technical adviser for three Electronic Arts flight simulator video games. The games include Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer, Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer 2.0, and Chuck Yeager's Air Combat. The game manuals featured quotes and anecdotes from Yeager and were well received by players. Missions featured several of Yeager's accomplishments and let players attempt to top his records. Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer was Electronic Art's top-selling game for 1987. [68]

In 2009, Yeager participated in the documentary The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a profile of his friend Pancho Barnes. The documentary was screened at film festivals, aired on public television in the United States, and won an Emmy Award. [69]

On October 14, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight past Mach 1, he flew a new Glamorous Glennis III, an F-15D Eagle, past Mach 1. [70] The chase plane for the flight was an F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Bob Hoover, a longtime test, fighter, and aerobatic pilot who had been Yeager's wingman for the first supersonic flight. [71] At the end of his speech to the crowd in 1997, Yeager concluded, "All that I am . I owe to the Air Force". [72] Later that month, he was the recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for his achievements. [73]

On October 14, 2012, on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, Yeager did it again at the age of 89, flying as co-pilot in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle piloted by Captain David Vincent out of Nellis Air Force Base. [74]

In 1973, Yeager was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, arguably aviation's highest honor. In 1974, Yeager received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. [75] In December 1975, the U.S. Congress awarded Yeager a silver medal "equivalent to a noncombat Medal of Honor . for contributing immeasurably to aerospace science by risking his life in piloting the X-1 research airplane faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947". President Gerald Ford presented the medal to Yeager in a ceremony at the White House on December 8, 1976. [76] [f]

Yeager, who never attended college and was often modest about his background, is considered by many, including Flying Magazine, the California Hall of Fame, the State of West Virginia, National Aviation Hall of Fame, a few U.S. presidents, and the United States Army Air Force, to be one of the greatest pilots of all time. Despite his lack of higher education, he was honored in his home state. Marshall University named its highest academic scholarship, the Society of Yeager Scholars, in his honor. Yeager was also the chairman of Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)'s Young Eagle Program from 1994 to 2004, and was named the program's chairman emeritus. [78]

In 1966, Yeager was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame. [79] He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1981. [80] He was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor 1990 inaugural class. [81]

Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, is named in his honor. The Interstate 64/Interstate 77 bridge over the Kanawha River in Charleston is named in his honor. He also flew directly under the Kanawha Bridge and West Virginia named it the Chuck E. Yeager Bridge. On October 19, 2006, the state of West Virginia also honored Yeager with a marker along Corridor G (part of U.S. Highway 119) in his home Lincoln County, and also renamed part of the highway the Yeager Highway. [82]

Yeager was an honorary board member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope. [83] On August 25, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Yeager would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum's yearlong exhibit. The induction ceremony was on December 1, 2009, in Sacramento, California. Flying Magazine ranked Yeager number 5 on its 2013 list of The 51 Heroes of Aviation for many years, he was the highest-ranked living person on the list. [84]

The Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer auxiliary of the USAF, awards the Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager Award to its Senior Members as part of its Aerospace Education program. [85]

Other achievements Edit

  • 1940–1949 – Harmon Trophy: Citation of Honorable Mention [88]
  • 1947 – Collier Trophy and Mackay Trophy, for breaking the sound barrier for the first time. [89][90]
  • 1953 – Harmon Trophy[91]
  • 1976 – Congressional Silver Medal[92]

Army of the United States
(Army Air Forces)

Army of the United States
(Army Air Forces)

Army of the United States
(Army Air Forces)

Regular Army
(Army Air Forces)

Regular Army
(Army Air Forces)

Yeager named his plane after his wife, Glennis, as a good-luck charm: "You're my good-luck charm, hon. Any airplane I name after you always brings me home." [100] Yeager and Glennis moved to Grass Valley, California, after his retirement from the Air Force in 1975. The couple prospered because of Yeager's best-selling autobiography, speaking engagements, and commercial ventures. [101] Glennis Yeager died of ovarian cancer in 1990. They had four children (Susan, Don, Mickey, and Sharon). [102] Yeager's son Mickey (Michael) died unexpectedly in Oregon, on March 26, 2011. [103]

Yeager appeared in a Texas advertisement for George H. W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign. [104]

In 2000, Yeager met actress Victoria Scott D'Angelo on a hiking trail in Nevada County. The pair started dating shortly thereafter, and married in August 2003. [105] Subsequent to the commencement of their relationship, a bitter dispute arose between Yeager, his children and D'Angelo. The children contended that D'Angelo, 35 years Yeager's junior, had married him for his fortune. Yeager and D'Angelo both denied the charge. Litigation ensued, in which his children accused D'Angelo of "undue influence" on Yeager, and Yeager accused his children of diverting millions of dollars from his assets. [106] In August 2008, the California Court of Appeal ruled for Yeager, finding that his daughter Susan had breached her duty as trustee. [107] [108]

Yeager lived in Northern California and died in the afternoon of December 7, 2020 (National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day), at age 97, in a Los Angeles hospital. [109] [110]

19 thoughts on &ldquo Brigadier General Charles Elwood (“Chuck”) Yeager, United States Air Force &rdquo

Two weeks prior to the X-1 flight North American test pilot George Welch is thought to have exceeded the speed of sound in an F-86. Sonic booms were heard at Muroc dry lake that morning. Supposedly the claim was rejected because there was no telemetry set up at the field. Remains a controversy.

Thank you, Paul. In my opinion, George Welch absolutely did break the sound barrier before Yeager. Please see This Day in Aviation’s article for 1 October 1947 at Interestingly, Yeager was not well known to the general public before the publication of Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” in 1979, when he became the public face of the research test pilot. Growing up in the 󈧶s and 󈨀s, I was well acquainted with Scott Crossfield, Pete Knight, Tony LeVier (a friend of my mother’s family), but I don’t think I had ever heard of Chuck Yeager.

Thanks Bryan. Best account I have seen of Welch’s flight. Many dispute the event but I believe it occurred. The 86 has always been my favorite fighter. A beautiful plane!

Those of us in aviation knew Chuck and of Chuck long before “the right stuff” was written and yes several WWII pilots did exceed Mach in P-47s when in dives and full power but most never survived due to loss of control. However Chuck did it officially and with telemetry and observers which is the making of all records.

Thank you, Kurt. That’s why I specified “the general public.” As to how well known he was within the aviation community, I can’t say. That was before my time. Possibly the most highly complimentary thing ever said about Yeager by a contemporary test pilot was when Scott Crossfield wrote that he doubted that any pilot other than Yeager could have survived the inertial-coupling incident in the X-1A.

I was just doing some research and was checking the official Air Force list of U.S. fighter aces of World War II. With 11 credited kills, Chuck Yeager is ranked at number 144. Preceding him on the list are many very well-recognized names. For example, with 13 kills, Robin Olds ranked 118th. The man who very likely beat Chuck Yeager through the sound barrier, George S. Welch, is ranked 59th with 16 kills. . . See TDiA for 14 October 1947 for that story:

As for P-47 pilots exceeding the speed of sound in dives, I doubt very much that that ever happened. See TDiA for 13 November 1942 for the story of Bunny Comstock and his high-speed dive in a P-47:

Happy Birthday to a great Fighter Pilot !===

He may be a great pilot but only an arrogant ahole would put down another pilots accomplishments like Dick Rutan’s and Jeanna Yeager. Plus he was lucky after he got shot down in Germany not skilled.
As for balls, John Glenn and company. To me character is defined by skill and humility a very rare characteristic throughout history.

Although I have met General Yeager, I do not know him well enough to say whether or not he is “arrogant.” But I do disagree about “luck.” A fighter pilot may survive the war with some luck, but he doesn’t score that many aerial victories without a tremendous amount of skill. As for being shot down, you are aware that Major General Robert M. White, X-15 test pilot and Air Force Cross recipient, was also shot down and captured? Brigadier General Frank Kendal (“Pete”) Everest, Jr., X-2 test pilot was shot down and captured in the CBI in 1944. Gabby Gabreski was a PoW until the end of the war. Famed test pilot Bob Hoover was shot down, captured and remained a guest of the Luftwaffe until he stole an Fw 190 and flew away? General Yeager volunteered to serve his country before we were at war. He rose from an enlisted man/aircraft mechanic to be one of the leading fighter aces of the war. He came from a small West Virginia town with a high school education and rose to the rank of Brigadier General, commanded various tactical Air Force units, as well as the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. He served in combat in two wars. Arrogant? Maybe. But I think we can cut the General a little slack.

The tips of the propellers were actually exceeding the speed of sound but even still couldn’t generate enough thrust to move the aircraft through the sound barrier. It wasn’t until reliable rocket and turbine engines were developed that enough thrust could be attained to so drive an aircraft faster than sound.

USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt became the first man to exceed Mach 3 while flying the Bell X-2 on September 27, 1956. Unfortunately the aircraft went out of control after making history and he was killed.


Major General Charles Elwood « Chuck » Yeager, born in 1923. He was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). Photo taken at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Photos © Olivier Blaise.


Brigadier General Charles E. Yeager, USAF (Ret)

Charles Elwood Yeager was born in 1923 in Myra, West Virginia and grew up in the nearby village of Hamlin.

Attended the Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., in 1939 and 1940.

On Sept.12, 1941, enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II and Yeager was transferred to Victorville Air Base (now George Air Force Base), Calif., where he worked on AT-11 aircraft and received promotions to private first class and to corporal.

Accepted for pilot training under the flying sergeant program in July 1942.

Received his pilot wings and appointment as a flight officer in March 10, 1943, from Luke Field, Phoenix, Ariz. He was promoted from corporal to flight officer. After completing basic training at Ellington Field, Texas, he served for two months at Mather Field, Calif., and later at Moffet Field, Calif.

General Yeager’s first assignment was as a P-39 pilot with the 363d Fighter Squadron in Tonopah, Nev. As a member of the 363d he trained at various bases in the United States before going overseas to England in November 1943.

March 5, 1944

While in England he flew P-51s in combat against the Germans, shooting down one ME-109 and an HE-111K before being shot down on his eighth combat mission over German-occupied France. He evaded capture when elements of the French Maquis helped him to make his way across the Pyrenees to neutral Spain.

SPRING, 1944

Yeager remained in Spain until the summer of 1944 when he was released to the British at Gibraltar and returned to England. Although army policy prohibited his return to combat flight, Yeager personally appealed to General Dwight D. Eisenhower and was allowed to fly combat missions again.

Returned to his squadron and flew 56 more combat missions, shooting down 11 more German aircraft.

Between July and October he was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Captain.

He flew 64 combat missions in World War II.

On one occasion he shot down a German jet from a prop plane.

By war’s end he had downed 13 enemy aircraft, five in a single day.

Yeager returned to the United States in 1945 to attend the instructor pilot course and subsequently served as an instructor pilot at Perrin Field, Texas. In July 1945 he went to Wright Field, Ohio, and participated in various test projects including the P-80 “Shooting Star” and the P-84 Thunderjet. He also evaluated all of the German and Japanese fighter aircraft brought back to the United States after the war. This assignment led to his subsequent selection as pilot of the nation’s first research rocket aircraft, the Bell X-1.

In January 1946 General Yeager attended the test Pilot School at Wright Field, Ohio.


Yeager continued to serve the newly constituted United States Air Force as a flight instructor and test pilot.

August 1947 was sent to Muroc Air Base, Calif., as the project officer on the Bell XS-1 .

On Oct. 14, 1947 , he flew the XS-1 past the sound barrier, becoming the world’s first supersonic pilot.

During the next two years, he flew the X-1 more than 40 times, exceeding 1,000 mph and 70,000 feet.

He was the first American to make a ground takeoff in a rocket- powered aircraft.

In 1952 Yeager attended the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

December 1953 he flew the Bell X-1A 1,650 mph, becoming the first man to fly two and one-half times the speed of sound. At Mach 2.4 at 80,000 feet the aircraft spun out of control, spinning on all three axes. G-forces sent Yeager’s head into the canopy, cracking it. The G-forces bent the control stick.

He spun down 51,000 feet in 51 seconds, before regaining control at 25,000 feet.

His speed record that day stood for the next three years. HEAR HIS AUDIO OF THAT FLIGHT.

Returned to Europe to serve as commander, 417th Fighter Squadron, Hahn Air Base, West Germany, and at Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France.

Received the Harmon Trophy Award from General Eisenhower for flying the X-1A.

During his tour in Europe, he took first-place honors in the 1956 Weapons Gunnery Meet.

Yeager commanded the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School to train pilots for the space program. In this capacity, Yeager supervised development of the space simulator and the introduction of advanced computers to Air force pilots. Although Yeager himself was passed over for service in space, nearly half of the astronauts who served in the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs were graduates of Yeager’s school.

1957 he returned to the United States and was assigned to the 413th Fighter Wing at George Air Force Base, Calif.

1958 became commander of the 1st Fighter Squadron, flying new F-100 “Super Sabres.”

General Yeager graduated from the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in June 1961

Became commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilot School (now the USAF Test Pilot School), where all military astronauts were trained.

Dec. 10, 1963, while testing the experimental Lockheed Starfighter NF-104 rocket-augmented aerospace trainer at over twice the speed of sound, he narrowly escaped death when his aircraft went out of control at 108,700 feet (nearly 21 miles up) and crashed. He parachuted to safety at 8,500 feet after vainly battling to gain control of the powerless, rapidly falling craft. In this incident he became the first pilot to make an emergency ejection in the full pressure suit needed for high altitude flights. Yeager’s compression suit was set on fire by the burning debris from the ejector seat, which became entangled in his parachute. He survived the fall, but required extensive skin grafts for his burns.

The Air Force space school was closed in 1966, as NASA took over the training of astronauts.

July 1966 he assumed command of the 405th Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines, and flew 127 missions in South Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, Yeager — now a full Colonel — commanded the 405th fighter wing out of the Philippines, flying 127 air-support missions, and training bomber pilots.

February 1968 he assumed command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., and deployed with the wing to the Republic of Korea during the USS Pueblo crisis.

July 1969 he became vice commander, 7th Air Force, at Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, and in August was promoted to Brigadier General.

Assumed duties as the United States Defense Representative to Pakistan.

March 1973 General Yeager went to the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, Calif., and became Director in June 1973.

Elected to the Aviation Hall of Fame.

Feb. 25, 1975: Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager flew his final Air Force sortie at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in an F-4C Phantom II (s/n 63-7264) before retiring from the service on March 1. Yeager was conducting a safety inspection of Edwards at the time.

He retired from active duty in the U.S. Air Force on March 1, 1975, but continued to serve as a consulting test pilot for many years.

Awarded the Special Congressional Silver Medal for bravery.

Presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Chuck Yeager made his last flight as a military consultant on October 14, 1997, the 50th anniversary of his history-making flight in the X-1. He observed the occasion by once again breaking the sound barrier, this time in an F-15 fighter.

Charles Elwood Yeager passes away Dec. 7, 2020 aged 97 years old.

General Yeager has flown 201 types of military aircraft and has more than 14,000 flying hours, with more than 13,000 of these in fighter aircraft. He has most recently flown the SR-71, F-15, F-16, F-18 and the F-20 Tigershark.

General Yeager remains an active aviation enthusiast, acting as advisor for various films, programs and documentaries on aviation. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Louisiana Pacific Corp., the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the National Commission on Space and the commission to investigate the space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986.

He is a consultant test pilot for the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

He married the former Glennis Faye Dickhouse of Grass Valley, Calif.
Mrs. Yeager passed away December 1990. He has two sons, Donald
and Michael and two daughters, Sharon and Susan.

He is the only American to be awarded the Congressional Medal for service in peacetime.

His other decorations include:

• The Purple Heart,
• The Bronze Star with V device,
• The Air Force Commendation medal,
• The Silver Star with oak leaf cluster,
• The Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster,
• The Distinguished Service Medal,
• The Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters,
• Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with one oak leaf cluster,
• The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and
• The Air Medal with ten clusters.

Civilian Awards

• Harmon International Trophy (1954),• Collier and Mackay Trophies (1948),

• Federation Aeronautique International Gold Medal Award.

• He was selected one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1953.

• He was the first and the youngest military pilot to be inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame (1973).

• Awarded a peacetime Congressional Medal of Honor by the Congress of the United States (presented by President Gerald Ford in 1976).

• Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in May 1985.

Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to Gen. Charles Yeager five gold eagles surround white enamel 5 point star with red enamel pentagonal background, blue enamel center disc with 13 white stars. Photo courtesy National Air and Space Museum.

• General Yeager was presented the Golden Plate Award by the American Academy of Achievement in 1974 and the Horatio Alger Award in 1986.

Military Education

General Yeager’s professional military education includes Air Command and Staff College in 1952 and the Air War College in 1961. He was awarded honorary doctor of science degrees from West Virginia University in 1948, From Marshall University of Huntington, W.V., in 1969, from Salem College in 1974, and from the University of Charleston in 1983.


A bestselling nonfiction book The Right Stuff (1979) by Tom Wolfe, and the popular film of the same title (1983) made Yeager’s name a household word among Americans too young to remember Yeager’s exploits of the 1950s. Yeager’s autobiography, “Yeager”, enjoyed phenomenal success and he remains much in demand on the lecture circuit and as a corporate spokesman.


Presentation of a
Special Congressional Silver Medal
Brigadier General Charles E. Yeager
United States Air Force (Retired)

At The White House
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, 8 December 1976
1200 Hours

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of
Congress, December 23, 1975, has awarded in the name of The Congress, a
Special Congressional Silver Medal to

Brigadier General Charles E. Yeager
United States Air Force (Retired)

for service as set forth in the following

For conspicuous gallantry and total disregard for his personal safety on
October 14, 1947 as pilot of the XS-1 research aircraft. On this date,
Brigadier General (then Captain) Yeager advanced aerospace science a
quantum step by proving that an aircraft could be flown at supersonic
speeds. He dispelled for all time the mythical “sound barrier” and set
the stage for unprecedented aviation advancement. Through his selfless
dedication to duty and his heroic challenge of the unknown, General
Yeager performed inestimable service to the Nation far above and beyond
the call of duty and brought great credit upon himself and the United
States of America.

Charles Elwood Yeager (1923 - 2020)

Charles "Chuck" Yeager was born on February 13, 1923, to farming parents Susie Mae and Albert Hal Yeager in Myra, West Virginia. He appeared on the census of 4 April 1930 in the home of his parents at Hamlin, Lincoln County, West Virginia. [1] The family was living in 1940 in Hamlin as well. [2] He graduated from high school in Hamlin, West Virginia, in June 1941. Yeager enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) on September 12, 1941, and became an aircraft mechanic at George Air Force Base, Victorville, California. [3]

On February 26, 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse, and the couple had four children. Glennis Yeager died in 1990. [3]

Yeager remained in the Air Force after the war, becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base, California). The USAAF selected Yeager to fly the rocket-powered Bell XS-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight. He called the X-1 Glamorous Glennis in honor of his wife. [3] He is the first known person to break the sound barrier during level flight, record set in 1947.

Yearger's biography including his military service, from 1941 to 1975, and his work as a test pilot is described in detail on Wikipedia. [3]

He married Victoria Scott D'Angelo in August 2003. [3]

Chuck Yeager is not related to Jeana Yeager, one of the two pilots of the Rutan Voyager aircraft, which circled the world without landing or refueling. Steven Wayne Yeager, a professional baseball player, is a nephew. [3]

Yeager passed away on 7 Dec 2020 at the age of 97. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. [4]

Chuck Yeager: Legendary Pilot with “The Right Stuff” and Breaker of the Sound Barrier Dies Aged 97

Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier, has died at 97.

This staggering achievement became part of popular culture through novel ‘The Right Stuff’. There was far more to the man of course. Yet ultimately America wouldn’t have touched the stars had a 24 year old Yeager not hopped aboard the experimental Bell X-1 plane in October 1947.

The groundwork for the space program was laid that day, over a nail-biting flight lasting just 14 minutes.

The Bell X-1 ‘Glorious Glennis’ in flight.

Hopping aboard may be overstating things. Yeager found any sudden movement difficult at the time, seeing as he’d broken 2 ribs in a recent riding accident. Keeping those injuries under the radar, he reportedly took a broom handle with him so the hatch could be closed without the tell tale screams of agony.

He was then dropped from the bomb hatch of a B-29 over the Mojave Desert. Climbing to 43,000 feet, he generated the first ever sonic boom at a speed of approx 700 mph (a little over Mach 1).

“It was a feat of considerable courage,” writes BBC News, “as nobody was certain at the time whether an aircraft could survive the shockwaves”. As the New York Times puts it, he went on to “personify the death-defying aviator”.

Yeager in the rather small cockpit of the Bell X-1. The image was signed by Yeager at Edwards AFB in the 1990s.

For Yeager the experience was welcome, but at the same time underwhelming. How so? The Times quotes the pilot from his memoirs, where he called the trip: “a poke through Jell-O”. He realized that “the real barrier wasn’t in the sky but in our knowledge and experience of supersonic flight.” The meteoric news wasn’t revealed till the following year.

Yeager lacked the qualifications to be on a space shuttle himself. He did however help train future astronauts at Edwards Air Force Base – formerly Muroc, where the B-29 launched him into the history books.

In fact Yeager nearly missed out on the Air Force altogether. According to the Daily Mail, his age and education level blocked a first attempt. The advent of World War II led to a rethink up top. Yeager was in the door, together with what the Mail describes as his “remarkable 20/10 vision, which once enabled him to shoot a deer at 600 yards.”

The country boy from Myra, West Virginia was on his way to becoming king of the cockpit. Born in 1923 to farmer father Albert and mother Susie Mae, he spent a couple of Summers at the Citizens Military Training Camp, Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. He then left his family behind, including 2 brothers and sisters, to fight Hitler in 1941.

He did this initially as a mechanic. Reportedly the sight of pilots with attractive women on their arm part-inspired him to seek a life in the air. Once the criteria for taking on pilots was changed, Yeager gained his wings and earned his stripes.

Before he smashed the speed of sound, Yeager downed multiple German planes as an “air ace”. He took out 13 enemy fighters in total. 5 of those were in 1 day. All the more remarkable given he’d previously been shot down himself.

Months earlier his P-51 Mustang was hit in French airspace. A wounded Yeager bailed out and worked with the Resistance to reach the Pyrenees. On top of that he needed to escort a comrade in arms across the frozen peaks and to safety in Spain (neutral territory).

“Glamorous Glen III,” Chuck Yeager’s P-51D during World War II.

Surviving this dramatic situation brought respect. However, Yeager’s new-found knowledge of the Resistance meant he needed to be kept away from his famously interrogation-happy opponents. No more air escapades. Or so they thought. Yeager wanted to fly again and argued his case. He managed to talk Supreme Allied Commander – and later President – Eisenhower into sending him back to the clouds.

By the time he broke the sound barrier, Yeager’s track record was exemplary. In the years since 1947 he gained a reputation as America’s most decorated pilot, in addition to its greatest one. A Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are just some of the awards in his collection. He served in Vietnam as a Colonel. Eventually he was promoted to Brigadier-General.

In 1953 he broke barriers again, this time by traveling at over twice the speed of sound in 1953 (Mach 2.44). The plane in question was an X-1A. He went on to beat sound hands down in 2012 at the grand old age of 89. This celebrated the 65th anniversary of his original feat.

The Bell X-1A.

Yeager officially retired in 1975. He entered the National Aviation Hall of Fame two years earlier. Then in 1979 his achievements were fictionalized by acclaimed author Tom Wolfe. ‘The Right Stuff’ was adapted into a movie in 1983. Fittingly the action opens with events surrounding Yeager’s Bell X-1 flight. Sam Shepard played him.

The expression “Right Stuff” referred to the particular and unflappable qualities needed by US astronauts. Yeager himself didn’t appear to be a fan of the expression. To him his achievements were a result of hard work, rather than any natural ability.

Yeager passed away on Monday in Los Angeles. Cause of death is unknown at time of writing. He leaves behind his wife Victoria, who he wed in 2003. Posting on Twitter, she writes about his “legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism”. The veteran pilot drew extra attention over the past few years for his own output on the platform. Replies to Tweets were on the short, no nonsense side according to reports.

Yeager prepares to board an F-15D Eagle from the 65th Aggressor Squadron Oct. 14, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base.

Major League Baseball’s Steve Yeager is his cousin. He was previously married to Glennis Dickhouse from 1945 to her death in 1990. The X-1 rocket plane’s nickname was ‘Glamorous Glennis’ in her honor. Susan, Don, Mickey and Sharon are the couple’s children.

Writing on the NASA website, Administrator Jim Bridenstone believes Yeager “set our nation’s dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age”. He calls him “a true American original”.

“May he rest in peace and his legacy live on forever” tweets the US Air Force.

“The man could not have been cooler” writes author Don Winslow

Former President Bill Clinton tweets Yeager’s “daring and skill captured our imaginations and expanded our understanding of what was possible.”

Yeager, Jeana (1952—)

American aviator who earned distinction as the first woman to fly nonstop around the world without refueling. Born on May 18, 1952, in Fort Worth, Texas studiedenergy, aerospace design and commercial engineer drafting no relation to Chuck Yeager (the test pilot).

Was the first woman to fly around the world without refueling (1986) received Presidential Citizen's Medal of Honor (1986) co-authored Voyager with co-pilot Dick Rutan.

Born on May 18, 1952, Jeana Yeager went skydiving and flew helicopters while she was growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to energy and commercial engineer drafting, she studied aerospace design. After becoming a pilot, she set various records for speed while flying planes designed by Burt Rutan. Yeager had acquired ten years of piloting experience before she embarked on her nonstop flight around the world.

Yeager and her co-pilot Dick Rutan (Burt's brother) made history in 1986 when they completed their famous record-breaking trip. Their aircraft was the featherweight Voyager, a plane described as simply a flying fuel tank. In order to make their goal of flying around the world without stopping to refuel, the plane—which at 1,860 pounds weighed less than a car—carried more fuel than a gasoline tank truck (9,400 pounds of 100-octane gasoline). The state-of-the-art aircraft designed by Dick's brother Burt was built out of stiffened honeycomb paper and composite carbon-fiber materials. With a wing span larger than that of a Boeing 727, the Voyager was complete with the most up-to-date airfoil technology, weather satellite links, and navigational aids.

Beginning at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert, Yeager and Rutan's flight started on December 14, 1986. The trip was not a smooth one. The Voyager suffered damage to a wing, and Yeager reported that she and Rutan were thrown about the small cabin, 7′×4′ high, during a trip marked by a tremendous amount of turbulence as well as deafening noise from the plane's engine. During the flight, Yeager and Rutan used the radiator of the Voyager's engine to heat prepackaged food. When the trip ended back at Edwards Air Force Base on December 23, the pilots had flown 26,000 miles in 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds, and they had broken the previous mark of 12,532 miles set by a B-52 bomber in 1962. President Ronald Reagan honored Yeager and Rutan with the Presidential Citizen's Medal of Honor, and the Voyager was put on display in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

In 1987, Yeager and Rutan published a book about their preparation for the trip and experiences while flying around the world. The book also exposed their supposed friendship as a love affair that was severed a few months prior to the flight, but continued as a professional friendship for the trip and subsequent publicity appearances. Among the additional awards and honors Yeager has received are the Collier Trophy (1986), Certified World Records for closed circuit/great circle distance from the Federation Aeronatique Internationale (1987), the Patriot of the Year award, the Diamond Wings award, the Spirit of Flight award, and an honorary degree in science and technology from Central New England College.

Chuck Yeager

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Chuck Yeager, byname of Charles Elwood Yeager, (born February 13, 1923, Myra, West Virginia, U.S.—died December 7, 2020, Los Angeles, California), American test pilot and U.S. Air Force officer who was the first man to exceed the speed of sound in flight.

Yeager enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1941, shortly after graduating from high school, and was assigned to the Army Air Corps. He was commissioned a reserve flight officer in 1943 and became a pilot in the fighter command of the Eighth Air Force stationed in England. He flew 64 missions over Europe during World War II, shot down 13 German aircraft, and was himself shot down over France (he escaped capture with the help of the French underground). After the war he became a flight instructor and then a test pilot, securing a regular commission as a captain in 1947.

Yeager was chosen from several volunteers to test-fly the secret experimental X-1 aircraft, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to test the capabilities of the human pilot and a fixed-wing aircraft against the severe aerodynamic stresses of sonic flight. On October 14, 1947, over Rogers Dry Lake in southern California, he rode the X-1, attached to a B-29 mother ship, to an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,600 metres). The X-1 then rocketed separately to 40,000 feet (12,000 metres), and Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier, which was approximately 662 miles (1,066 km) per hour at that altitude. The feat was not announced publicly until June 1948. Yeager continued to make test flights, and on December 12, 1953, he established a world speed record of 1,650 miles (2,660 km) per hour in an X-1A rocket plane.

In 1954 Yeager left his post as assistant chief of test-flight operations at Edwards Air Force Base in California to join the staff of the Twelfth Air Force in West Germany. Following other routine assignments, he returned to Edwards in 1962 as commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilot School with the rank of colonel. In 1968 he took command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing. He retired from the air force with the rank of brigadier general in 1975. His autobiography, Yeager, was published in 1985.

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