Retired United States Air Force Brigadier General Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager , who piloted a fighter jet in World War II and was the test pilot who in 1947 became the first person to fly faster than sound , has died at the age of 97. Yeager died Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement, describing his death as “a tremendous loss to our country.”
“Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America’s air capability and blew our nation’s dreams into the jet age and space age. He said: ‘Don’t focus on the risks. Focus on the results . No risk is too great to prevent the necessary work from being done, ‘”Brindenstine said in his statement.
“In an era of media heroes, he’s authentic, ” Edwards Air Force Base historian Jim Young said in August 2006 when a bronze statue of Yeager was unveiled. Born in a small town in the hills of West Virginia, Yeager piloted for more than 60 years, which included piloting an X-15 at nearly 1,600 kilometers per hour in October 2002, at age 79.
“Reaching old age is not an end in itself. The trick is to enjoy the years that remain, ”he wrote in Yeager: An Autobiography . “I haven’t done it all, but by the time I’m done, I won’t have missed much,” he wrote. “If I crash tomorrow after falling into a spin, it won’t be with a frown. I really enjoyed it ”.
Yeager shot down 13 German aircraft in 64 missions during World War II, including five in a single mission . He was shot down over occupied France, but escaped with the help of French partisans. After World War II, he became a test pilot at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
On October 14, 1947, when he was a 24-year-old captain, he managed to put a Bell X-1, an orange and bullet-shaped aircraft, above 1,162 kilometers to break the sound barrier , a milestone of the aviation.
His feat was kept secret for about a year, and the world thought that the British had broken the sound barrier earlier. His feat was chronicled in Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff (translated as “What You Need: Chosen for Glory”), and in the 1983 film that inspired the book.
Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse of Oroville, California on February 26, 1945. She died of ovarian cancer in December 1990. They had four children: Donald, Michael, Sharon, and Susan. In 2003 he married Victoria Scott D’Angelo.