Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the United States Air Force brigadier general most well known for being the first person to break the sound barrier, died Monday at age 97. Recognized for his unusually sharp vision, Yeager became a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II despite insufficient education, and he became an ace. After the war, he became a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field in southern California.
What was his legacy? In 1947, Yeager flew the BX-1, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife, Glennis Yeager, which carried him faster than the speed of sound and earned him the MacKay, Collier, and Harmon International Trophies. He accomplished this in spite of two broken ribs. The technology behind the BX-1 was highly experimental at the time: “We didn’t know if we could break the sound barrier,” he was quoted saying. “But it was our duty to try. That’s the way I looked at it.” At the test field, Yeager reached 670 mph and would accelerate to 1,650 mph years later. Yeager was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973. —Kirkland An
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