Aviation Pioneer Chuck Yeager is Born Today

Aviation Pioneer Chuck Yeager

On this day in 1923, former U.S. Air Force General and Aviation record-setter Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager was born in Myra, West Virginia. Yeager is best known for being the first man to break the speed of sound while in level flight, a record set on October 14, 1947. 

Background on Chuck Yeager's Aviation career:

Yeager's career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces.After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 fighter pilot.

After the war, Yeager became a test pilot of many types of aircraft, including experimental rocket-powered aircraft. As the first human to officially break the sound barrier, on October 14, 1947, he flew the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). Although Scott Crossfield was the first to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter set a new record of Mach 2.44.

Yeager later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany, and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager's flying career spans more than 60 years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, including the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.

Information on Yeager's Aviation records:

Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the X-1 at Mach 1.07 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m) over the Rogers Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert. Yeager was awarded the MacKay and Collier Trophies in 1948 for his mach-transcending flight, and the Harmon International Trophy in 1954. The X-1 he flew that day was later put on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Yeager went on to break many other speed and altitude records. He was also one of the first American pilots to fly a MiG-15, after its pilot, No Kum-sok, defected to South Korea. 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, a close friend, as she became the first woman to fly faster than sound.

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, 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".

The Ridley/Yeager USAF team achieved Mach 2.44 on December 12, 1953. Shortly after reaching Mach 2.44, Yeager experienced a loss of aerodynamic control of the X-1A due to inertia coupling at approximately 80,000 ft (24,000 m). With the aircraft simultaneously rolling, pitching, and yawing out of the sky, Yeager dropped 51,000 feet (16,000 m) in 51 seconds before regaining control of the aircraft at approximately 29,000 feet (8,800 m). He was able to land the aircraft without further incident. Yeager was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) in 1954 for this achievement. Yeager received the DSM in the Army design as the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was not awarded until 1965.

For a more extensive overview on Chuck Yeager can be seen on his Wikipedia article from which the information above was sourced.

"You don't concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done." - Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager
Aviation Pioneer Chuck Yeager is Born Today Aviation Pioneer Chuck Yeager is Born Today Reviewed by Joe Burlas on February 13, 2017 Rating: 5