Gen. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound, turned 97 years old this year.
Born on February 13, 1923, Yeager celebrating his birthday tweeted that he “can’t believe it” and looked to the future asking “now, what’s next?”
Colonel Albert Boyd selected Yeager, who was a junior test pilot at the time, to fly the rocket-powered Bell XS-1.
Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, in the experimental aircraft.
More information can be found on his official webpage ChuckYeager.com.
The website read:
He chose Yeager because he considered him the best “instinctive” pilot he had ever seen and he had demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to remain calm and focused in stressful situations.
The X-1 program certainly promised to be stressful; many experts believed the so-called “sound barrier” was impenetrable.
Following several intense test flights, the World War II hero finally achieved his goal.
The site continued:
On 14 Oct. he dropped away from the B-29, fired all four chambers of his engine in rapid sequence and bolted away from the launch aircraft.
Accelerating upward, he shut down two chambers and tested the moveable tail as his Machmeter registered numbers of 0.83, .88 and 0.92. Moved in small increments, it provided effective control.
He reached an indicated Mach number of 0.92 as he leveled out at 42,000 feet and relit a third chamber of his engine. The X-1 Glamorous Glennis rapidly accelerated to 0.98 Mach and then, at 43,000 feet, the needle on his Machmeter jumped off the scale.
Chuck Yeager had just crossed the invisible threshold to flight faster than the speed of sound.
He attained a top speed of Mach 1.06 (700 mph).