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American test pilot and U.S. Air Force General, Chuck Yeager, has passed away at the age of 97. His second wife Victoria verified his death on Dec. 7, 2020.
He was born on Feb. 13, 1923, in Myra, West Virginia. After he graduated from high school Yeager enlisted into the Army in September 1941. The general was assigned to the Army Air Corps upon enlisting. In 1943, he was commissioned as a reserve flight officer.
His Time in World War II
Once there he became a pilot in the fighter command of the Eighth Air Force while stationed in England. During World War II, Yeager flew in 64 missions. During those missions, he shot down 13 German aircraft.
He was shot down over France during one of his missions. Yeager was able to escape being captured with the help of the French underground. He became a flight instructor after the war. After which he became a test pilot.
In 1947 Yeager secured a regular commission as a captain. He was chosen out of several volunteers to test-fly the X-1 aircraft — a secret experiment built by Bell Aircraft Company.
His Career as a Test Pilot
His job was to see how the aircraft handled under the command of a human pilot. He also tested the rocket engine-powered aircraft against the severe aerodynamic stresses of sonic flight.
On Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier when he flew the X-1 aircraft over Rogers Dry lake. He flew at approximately 662 miles per hour (mph) at an altitude of 40,000 feet when he broke the sound barrier.
Yeagers accomplishment was not announced publicly until June 1948. He continued to be a test fly pilot. On Dec. 12, 1953, he set a world speed record of 1,650 mph in an X-1A rocket plane.
In 1954, he moved to West Germany and joined the Twelfth Air Force. He returned to California in 1962 to become the commandant of the Aerospace Research Pilot School at the Edwards Air Force Base. At this time he had the rank of colonel.
He retired from the Air Force as a brigadier general in 1975. The general published his autobiography, “Yeager” in 1985.
According to his friend and ground crew chief, John Nicoletti, Yeager had endured some physical challenges over the past several years. He even had a fall lead to complications and other age-related issues.
Yeager was never a quitter. He was an incredibly courageous man.
Written by Sheena Robertson
CNN: Chuck Yeager, pilot who broke the sound barrier, dies at 97 by Pete Muntean, Hollie Silverman, and Joe Sutton
Britannica: Chuck Yeager
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Inline Image by Ad Meskens Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License