Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Chuck Yeager, first to break sound barrier, dead at 97

 Chuck Yeager, the pioneering Air Force pilot who broke the sound barrier and was featured in “The Right Stuff,” has died.As one of the U.S. Air Force’s most decorated test pilots, retired Brig. Gen. Yeager first broke the sound barrier in 1947. He was the first pilot in history to fly faster than the speed of sound in level flight.


Born in 1923 in West Virginia, Yeager flew more than 200 types of military aircraft. He also trained many of the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo astronauts at the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School.

He was just 18 in September 1941 when he enlisted in the Air Force as an aircraft mechanic,

He was promoted to Brigadier General in August 1969.

Breaking the sound barrier was only one of Yeager’s many firsts. He was the first American to make a ground takeoff in a rocket-powered aircraft, which he did in 1948, the VA’s biography of him noted.

He also broke a secondary sound barrier, flying two-and-a-half times the speed of sound in 1953. The first pilot ever to eject under emergency conditions, he also became first pilot in the full pressure suit needed for high altitude flights in 1963. 

Yeager was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015.

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