Chuck Yeager

Chuck Yeager

American World War II flying ace and test pilot; first pilot to fly faster than sound
Brigadier General Charles Elwood Yeager was a United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot who in October 1947 became the first pilot in history confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound in level flight.Wikipedia
BornFebruary 13, 1923
HometownMyra, West Virginia, U.S.
Net worth$1 million
Height5'10" (1.78m)
SpouseVictoria Scott D'Angelo, Glennis Dickhouse
ChildrenSusan Yeager, Michael Yeager, Don Yeager, Sharon Yeager Flick
ParentsSusie Mae Yeager, Albert Hal Yeager


Credit: Getty Images, Rotten Tomatoes, Gracenote Media Services

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Sir Frank Whittle: the test pilot who revolutionised aviation

  • News of the death of Chuck Yeager last week, aged 97, prompted tributes across the aerospace world to ‘the man who broke the sound barrier’. As a young US Air Force test pilot in October 1947, Yeager raced across the sky over California’s Mojave desert in a bullet-shaped experimental plane called the Bell X-1. It marked the start of the celebrated era in American military aviation that was chronicled in such dizzying style by Tom Wolfe in his 1979 book The Right Stuff. (Yeager, wrote Wolfe, was ‘the most righteous’ of all who possessed said stuff.) In most of its essentials, though, the shape of the Bell X-1 was fashioned by British engineers in the home counties. They called it the M.52 and began work on it in 1944 at the main plant of a small manufacturer called Miles Aircraft in Berkshire. It was to be powered by two W.2/700 jet engines – the latest in a succession of highly innovative designs by the man whose pioneering work on jet flight transformed the world of civil as well as military aviation: Frank Whittle. Whittle himself had once been a brave test pilot. As an RAF officer in 1931 he had been seconded briefly to the Royal Navy, to fly planes catapulted off ships. (One of his roles involved making ‘pancake’ landings on the sea, to test the efficiency of newly invented flotation bags. Whittle made several landings, never mentioning to anyone that he couldn’t swim.) He flew at little more than 100mph in those days, in biplanes with wire-braced wings and fabric-covered fuselages. Many great engineers contributed to the astonishing leap in aircraft technology that led from those biplanes to supersonic flight less than 20 years later.


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