Chuck Yeager, First Pilot to Break the Sound Barrier, Dies Aged 97

Test pilot Yeager was one of the most decorated pilots of the U.S. Air Force.
Fabienne Lang
Chuck YeagerWikimedia Commons

Chuck Yeager, the U.S. Air Force test pilot who was the first to break the sound barrier died on Monday, aged 97

Yeager's death was announced by his wife, Victoria Scott D'Angelo, in a Twitter post from his account. 

"It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9 pm ET," the tweet said. "An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever."


Yeager made it into the history books with his iconic flight in the Bell X-1 experimental rocket plane over California's Mojave Desert on October 14, 1947

Yeager's plane, named Glamorous Glennis in honor of his first wife, was lifted to 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) before being dropped from the bomb bay of a B-29 aircraft. He soared up to 45,000 feet (13,700 meters) going over speeds of 767 mph (1,225 km/h) — which is the speed of sound at that altitude.

Yeager was only 24 at the time when he made history. 

It was not an easy feat, as no one at that time had yet flown at speeds of Mach 1 in such an aircraft, and it wasn't certain the aircraft would withstand the shockwaves that come with a sonic boom. 

The mission was made public nearly a year later, in June 1948. The last time Yeager broke the speed of sound was in 2012, aged 89. 

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Yeager's success was turned into a book written by Tom Wolfe, "The Right Stuff," and subsequently turned into a movie in 1983. 

Born in 1923 in West Virginia, Yeager became a famous World War II pilot before carrying out his speed-defying feat.

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