Chuck Yeager
Overview
 


Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (icon; born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and noted test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 (1947). Originally retiring in 1975 as a brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

, Yeager was promoted to major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 on the Air Force's retired list in 2005 for his military achievements.

His career began in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as a private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

 in the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted
Enlisted rank
An enlisted rank is, in most Militaries, any rank below a commissioned officer or warrant officer. The term can also be inclusive of non-commissioned officers...

 pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer
Flight officer
The title flight officer was a military rank used by the United States Armed Forces where it was an air force warrant officer rank. It was also an air force rank in several Commonwealth nations where it was used for female officers and was equivalent to the rank of flight lieutenant...

 (the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 USAAF equivalent to warrant officer
Warrant Officer (United States)
In the United States military, the rank of warrant officer is rated as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1...

) and became a North American P-51 Mustang fighter pilot
Fighter pilot
A fighter pilot is a military aviator trained in air-to-air combat while piloting a fighter aircraft . Fighter pilots undergo specialized training in aerial warfare and dogfighting...

.
Encyclopedia


Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (icon; born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 and noted test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 (1947). Originally retiring in 1975 as a brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

, Yeager was promoted to major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 on the Air Force's retired list in 2005 for his military achievements.

His career began in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as a private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

 in the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted
Enlisted rank
An enlisted rank is, in most Militaries, any rank below a commissioned officer or warrant officer. The term can also be inclusive of non-commissioned officers...

 pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer
Flight officer
The title flight officer was a military rank used by the United States Armed Forces where it was an air force warrant officer rank. It was also an air force rank in several Commonwealth nations where it was used for female officers and was equivalent to the rank of flight lieutenant...

 (the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 USAAF equivalent to warrant officer
Warrant Officer (United States)
In the United States military, the rank of warrant officer is rated as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1...

) and became a North American P-51 Mustang fighter pilot
Fighter pilot
A fighter pilot is a military aviator trained in air-to-air combat while piloting a fighter aircraft . Fighter pilots undergo specialized training in aerial warfare and dogfighting...

. After the war he became a test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

 of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

 at Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). Although Scott Crossfield
Albert Scott Crossfield
Albert Scott Crossfield was an American naval officer and test pilot.-Biography:Born in Berkeley, California, Crossfield grew up in California and Washington. He served with the U.S. Navy as a flight instructor and fighter pilot during World War II...

 was the first man to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter set a new record of Mach 2.44. He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then 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
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 during the height of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Yeager's popularity soared in the 1980s, when he was prominently featured in Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

's book The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff (book)
The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar experiments with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the first Project Mercury astronauts selected for the NASA space program...

and in its 1983 movie adaptation, in which he was portrayed by Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard is an American playwright, actor, and television and film director. He is the author of several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child...

.

Early life

Yeager was born to farming parents Susie Mae and Albert Hal Yeager in Myra, West Virginia
Myra, West Virginia
Myra is an unincorporated community in Lincoln County, West Virginia, United States. Myra is located on the Mud River south of Hamlin. Myra had a post office, which opened on September 7, 1883, and closed on March 19, 2011....

, and graduated from high school in Hamlin, West Virginia
Hamlin, West Virginia
Hamlin, originally named "Hamline," is a town in Lincoln County, West Virginia, United States, along the Mud River. The population was recorded as 1,119 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Lincoln County.-History:...

. Yeager had two brothers, Roy and Hal, Jr., and two sisters, Doris Ann (accidentally killed by Roy with a shotgun while still an infant) and Pansy Lee. His first experience with the military was at the Citizens Military Training Camp
Citizens Military Training Camp
Citizens' Military Training Camps were military training programs of the United States. Held annually each summer during the years 1921 to 1940, the CMTC camps differed from National Guard and Reserves training in that the program allowed male citizens to obtain basic military training without an...

 at Fort Benjamin Harrison
Fort Benjamin Harrison
Fort Benjamin Harrison was a U.S. Army post located in suburban Lawrence, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis. It is named for the 23rd United States President, Benjamin Harrison. Land was purchased in 1903, with the post being officially named for President Harrison in honor of Indianapolis being...

, Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, during the summers of 1939 and 1940. On February 26, 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse, and the couple had four children. Glennis Yeager died in 1990.

The name "Yeager" (ˈ) is an Anglicized form of the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 name Jäger or Jaeger (German: "hunter"), and so is common among immigrants of that community. He is the uncle of former baseball catcher Steve Yeager
Steve Yeager
Stephen Wayne "Steve" Yeager is an American right-handed former major league baseball catcher. Yeager spent 14 of the 15 seasons of his Major League Baseball career, from through , with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His last year, , he played for the Seattle Mariners...

.

World War II

Yeager enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 (USAAF) on September 12, 1941, and became an aircraft mechanic at George Air Force Base
George Air Force Base
George Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located within city limits, 8 miles northwest of central Victorville, California, about 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles, California. The facility was closed by the Base Realignment and Closure 1992 commission at the end of the Cold...

, Victorville, California
Victorville, California
Victorville is a city located in the Victor Valley of southwestern San Bernardino County, California. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 census, the city had a population of 115,903, up from 64,030 at the 2000 census.-Geography and climate:...

. At enlistment, Yeager was not eligible for flight training because of his age and educational background, but the entry of the U.S. into World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 less than two months later prompted the USAAF to alter its recruiting standards. Blessed with remarkable 20/10 vision, Yeager displayed natural talent as a pilot and was accepted for flight training. He received his wings and a promotion to Flight Officer at Luke Field
Luke Air Force Base
Luke Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located seven miles west of the central business district of Glendale, in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. It is also about west of Phoenix, Arizona....

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, where he graduated from class 43C on March 10, 1943. Assigned to the 357th Fighter Group
357th Fighter Group
The 357th Fighter Group was an air combat unit of the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War. The 357th operated P-51 Mustang aircraft as part of the U.S. Eighth Air Force and its members were known unofficially as "The Yoxford Boys" after a village near their base...

 at Tonopah, Nevada
Tonopah, Nevada
Tonopah is a census-designated place located in and the county seat of Nye County, Nevada. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 6 and 95 approximately mid-way between Las Vegas and Reno....

, he initially trained as a fighter pilot flying P-39 Airacobras (earning a seven day grounding order for pruning a tree belonging to a local farmer during a training flight), and went overseas with the group on November 23, 1943.

Stationed in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 at RAF Leiston
RAF Leiston
RAF Leiston is a former airfield in the United Kingdom. The airfield is located northwest of Leiston and south of Theberton in Suffolk.-USAAF use:...

, Yeager flew P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

s in combat (he named his aircraft Glamorous Glennis after his girlfriend, Glennis Faye Dickhouse, who became his wife in February 1945) with the 363rd Fighter Squadron. He had gained one victory before he was shot down over France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 on his eighth mission, on March 5, 1944. He escaped to Spain on March 30 with the help of the Maquis
Maquis (World War II)
The Maquis were the predominantly rural guerrilla bands of the French Resistance. Initially they were composed of men who had escaped into the mountains to avoid conscription into Vichy France's Service du travail obligatoire to provide forced labour for Germany...

 (French Resistance) and returned to England on May 15, 1944. During his stay with the Maquis, Yeager assisted the guerrillas in duties that did not involve direct combat, though he did help to construct bombs for the group, a skill that he had learned from his father. He was awarded the Bronze Star
Bronze Star Medal
The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the...

 for helping another airman, who had lost part of his leg during the escape attempt, to cross the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

.

Despite a regulation that "evaders" (escaped pilots) could not fly over enemy territory again to avoid compromising Resistance allies, Yeager was reinstated to flying combat. Yeager had joined a bomber pilot evader, Capt. Fred Glover, in speaking directly to the Allied Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

, on June 12, 1944. With Glover pleading their case, arguing that because the Allies had invaded France, the Maquis resistance movement was by then openly fighting the Nazis alongside Allied troops, so there was little or nothing they could reveal if shot down again to expose those who had helped them evade capture. Eisenhower, after gaining permission from the War Department to decide the requests, concurred with Yeager and Glover. Yeager later credited his postwar success in the Air Force to this decision, saying that his test pilot career followed naturally from being a decorated combat ace with a good kill record, along with being an airplane maintenance man prior to attending pilot school. In part because of his maintenance background, Yeager also frequently served as a maintenance officer in his flying units.

Yeager possessed outstanding eyesight (rated as 20/10, once enabling him to shoot a deer at 600 yards (548.6 m)), flying skills, and combat leadership; he distinguished himself by becoming the first pilot
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 in his group to make "ace in a day:" he shot down five enemy aircraft in one mission, finishing the war with 11.5 official victories, including one of the first air-to-air victories over a jet fighter (a German Messerschmitt Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 262
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems prevented the aircraft from attaining operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944...

). Two of his "ace in a day" kills were scored without firing a single shot; he flew into firing position against a Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

 and the pilot of the aircraft panicked, breaking to starboard and colliding with his wingman; Yeager later reported both pilots bailed out. Another victory that was not officially counted for him came during the period before his combat status was reinstated: during a training flight in his P-51 over the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, he happened on a German Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 88
The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers' company through the services of two American aviation engineers in the mid-1930s, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early...

 heavy fighter attacking a downed Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crew. Yeager's quick thinking and reflexes saved the B-17 crew, but because he was not yet cleared for flying combat again, his gun camera film and credit for the kill were given to his wingman, Eddie Simpson. (Yeager later mistakenly recalled that the credit had given Simpson his fifth kill.)

In his 1986 memoirs, he noted with disgust that "atrocities were committed by both sides" and went on to recount going on a mission with orders from the Eighth Air Force
Eighth Air Force
The Eighth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Global Strike Command . It is headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana....

 to "strafe anything that moved." During the mission briefing he whispered to Major Donald H. Boschkay, "If we are going to do things like this, we sure as hell better make sure we are on the winning side." He further noted, "I’m certainly not proud of that particular strafing mission against civilians. But it is there, on the record and in my memory."

Yeager was commissioned a second lieutenant while at Leiston and was promoted to captain before the end of his tour. He flew his 61st and final mission on January 15, 1945, and returned to the United States in early February. As an evader, he received his choice of assignments and, because his new wife was pregnant, chose Wright Field
Wright Field
Wright Field was an airfield of the United States Army Air Corps and Air Forces near Riverside, Ohio. From 1927 to 1947 it was the research and development center for the Air Corps, and during World War II a flight test center....

 to be near his home in West Virginia. His high flight hours and maintenance experience qualified him to become a functional test pilot of repaired aircraft, which brought him under the command of Colonel Albert Boyd
Albert Boyd
Albert Boyd was a pioneering test pilot for the United States Air Force. During his 30 year career, he logged over 23,000 hours of flight time, flying an astounding 723 military aircraft...

, head of the Aeronautical Systems Flight Test Division.

Postwar

Yeager remained in the Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 after the war, becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

) and eventually being selected to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1 in a NACA
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 program to research high-speed flight, after Bell Aircraft
Bell Aircraft
The Bell Aircraft Corporation was an aircraft manufacturer of the United States, a builder of several types of fighter aircraft for World War II but most famous for the Bell X-1, the first supersonic aircraft, and for the development and production of many important civilian and military helicopters...

 test pilot "Slick" Goodlin
Chalmers Goodlin
Chalmers H. "Slick" Goodlin was the second test pilot of the Bell X-1 supersonic rocket plane, and the first to operate the craft in powered flight...

 demanded $150,000 to break the sound "barrier." Such was the difficulty in this task that the answer to many of the inherent challenges were along the lines of "Yeager better have paid-up insurance." Yeager broke the sound barrier
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental X-1 at Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, he broke two ribs while riding a horse. He was so afraid of being removed from the mission that he went to a veterinarian in a nearby town for treatment and told only his wife, as well as friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley
Jack Ridley
Jackie L. "Jack" Ridley was a colonel in the United States Air Force and a noted test pilot who worked with Chuck Yeager....

 about it.

On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the airplane's hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device, using the end of a broom handle as an extra lever, to allow Yeager to seal the hatch of the X-1. Yeager's flight recorded Mach 1.07, however, he was quick to point out that the public paid attention to whole numbers and that the next milestone would be exceeding Mach 2. Yeager's X-1 is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

. Yeager was awarded the MacKay
MacKay trophy
The Mackay Trophy was established on 27 January 1911 by Clarence Hungerford Mackay, who was then head of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company and the Commercial Cable Company. Originally, aviators could compete for the trophy annually under rules made each year or the War Department could award the...

 and Collier Trophies
Collier Trophy
The Collier Trophy is an annual aviation award administered by the U.S. National Aeronautics Association , presented to those who have made "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space...

 in 1948 for his mach-transcending flight, and the Harmon International Trophy
Harmon Trophy
The Harmon Trophy is a set of three international trophies, to be awarded annually to the world's outstanding aviator, aviatrix , and aeronaut...

 in 1954.

Some aviation historians contend that American pilot George Welch broke the sound barrier before Yeager, while diving an XP-86 Sabre
F-86 Sabre
The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as America's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War...

 on October 1, 1947, and again, just 30 minutes before Yeager's X-1 flight. There was also a disputed claim by German pilot Hans Guido Mutke
Hans Guido Mutke
Dr Hans Guido Mutke was a fighter pilot for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. He was born in Neisse, Upper Silesia . He landed at Dubendorf, Switzerland on 25th April 1945, flying the Me262A-1c jet fighter, 'White 3', from 9 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 7...

 that he was the first person to break the sound barrier, on April 9, 1945, in a Messerschmitt Me 262.

Yeager went on to break many other speed and altitude records. He also was one of the first American pilots to fly a MiG-15
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was a jet fighter developed for the USSR by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and it achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in...

 after its pilot defected to South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 with it due to Operation Moolah
Operation Moolah
Operation Moolah was a United States Air Force effort during the Korean War to obtain through defection a fully capable Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. The MiG-15 was introduced by Communist forces on November 1, 1950 over the skies of Korea...

. 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 plane
Chase plane
A chase plane is an aircraft that "chases" another aircraft, a spacecraft or a rocket during flight. Safety can be one function of a chase plane; others are to photo or video the target vehicle, or to collect engineering data from it...

 for the female civilian pilot Jackie Cochran
Jacqueline Cochran
Jacqueline Cochran was a pioneer American aviator, considered to be one of the most gifted racing pilots of her generation...

, a close friend, as she became the first woman to fly faster than sound. However, on November 20, 1953, the NACA's D-558-II Skyrocket
Douglas Skyrocket
The Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket was a rocket and jet-powered supersonic research aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy...

 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 flight series 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
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 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, he experienced a loss of aerodynamic control due to inertial coupling at approximately 80000 ft (24,384 m). Yeager lost control of the X-1A. With the aircraft out of control, simultaneously rolling, pitching and yawing out of the sky, Yeager dropped 51000 feet (15,544.8 m) in 51 seconds until regaining control of the aircraft at approximately 29000 feet (8,839.2 m). He was able to land the aircraft without further incident.

Yeager was foremost a fighter pilot and held several squadron and wing commands. From May 1955 to July 1957 he commanded the F-86H Sabre-equipped 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (50th Fighter-Bomber Wing) at Hahn AB
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport
-Cargo airlines:-Other facilities:AirIT Services AG, a subsidiary of Fraport, has its head office in Building 663 at Hahn Airport.-References:*Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force,...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and Toul-Rosieres Air Base
Toul-Rosieres Air Base
Toul-Rosières Air Base is a reserve French Air Force base. It is located in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département of France, 10 miles northeast of the city of Toul, on the west side of the Route nationale 411 Highway about one mile southeast of Rosières-en-Haye.Toul Air Base was used by American...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

; and from 1957 to 1960 the F-100D
F-100 Super Sabre
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that served with the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard until 1979. The first of the Century Series collection of USAF jet fighters, it was the first USAF fighter capable of...

-equipped 1st Fighter Day Squadron (later, while still under Yeager's command, re-designated the 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron) at George Air Force Base
George Air Force Base
George Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located within city limits, 8 miles northwest of central Victorville, California, about 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles, California. The facility was closed by the Base Realignment and Closure 1992 commission at the end of the Cold...

, California, and Morón Air Base
Morón Air Base
Morón Air Base is located at in southern Spain, approximately southeast of the city of Seville and northeast of Naval Station Rota. The base gets its name from the nearby town of Morón de la Frontera - although its is actually located in the municipality of Arahal.Morón's massive flight line,...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

In 1962, after completion of a year's studies at the Air War College
Air War College
The Air War College is a part of the United States Air Force's Air University, headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Air University's higher headquarters is Air Education and Training Command headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. The Air War...

, he was the first commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School
U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School
The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School is the Air Force's very advanced flight training school that trains experimental test pilots, flight test engineers, and flight test navigators to carry out tests and evaluations of new aerospace weapon systems and also other aircraft of the U.S. Air Force...

, which produced astronauts for NASA and the USAF, after its redesignation from the USAF Flight Test Pilot School. An accident during a test flight in one of the school's NF-104s
Lockheed NF-104A
The Lockheed NF-104A was an American mixed power, high-performance, supersonic aerospace trainer that served as a low cost astronaut training vehicle for the X-15 and projected X-20 Dyna-Soar programs....

 put an end to his record attempts. Between December 1963 and January 1964, Yeager completed five flights in the NASA M2-F1
NASA M2-F1
The NASA M2-F1 was a lightweight, unpowered prototype aircraft, developed to flight test the wingless lifting body concept. It looked like a "flying bathtub," and was designated the M2-F1, the "M" referring to "manned" and "F" referring to "flight" version. In 1962, NASA Dryden management approved...

 lifting body
Lifting body
A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift. In contrast to a flying wing, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing...

.

In 1966 he took command of the 405th Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base
Clark Air Base
Clark Air Base is a former United States Air Force base on Luzon Island in the Philippines, located 3 miles west of Angeles City, about 40 miles northwest of Metro Manila. Clark Air Base was an American military facility from 1903 to 1991...

, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, whose squadrons were deployed on rotational temporary duty (TDY) in South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. There he accrued another 414 hours of combat time in 127 missions, mostly in a Martin B-57 Canberra light bomber. In February 1968, he was assigned command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing
4th Fighter Wing
The 4th Fighter Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command Ninth Air Force. It is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, where it is also the host unit....

 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located to the southeast of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The base is named for Navy test pilot Seymour Johnson, a native of Goldsboro...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, and led the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II wing in South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 during the Pueblo crisis
USS Pueblo (AGER-2)
USS Pueblo is an American ELINT and SIGINT Banner-class technical research ship which was boarded and captured by North Korean forces on January 23, 1968, in what is known as the Pueblo incident or alternatively as the Pueblo crisis or the Pueblo affair. Occurring less than a week after President...

.

On June 22, 1969, he was promoted to brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

, and was assigned in July as the vice-commander of the Seventeenth Air Force
Seventeenth Air Force
Seventeenth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The command served the United States Air Forces in Europe during its years of active service...

. In 1971, Yeager was assigned to Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 to advise the Pakistan Air Force
Pakistan Air Force
The Pakistan Air Force is the leading air arm of the Pakistan Armed Forces and is primarily tasked with the aerial defence of Pakistan with a secondary role of providing air support to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy. The PAF also has a tertiary role of providing strategic air transport...

 at the behest of Ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 Joe Farland. Prior to the start of hostilities of the Bangladesh War he is reported to have said that the Pakistani army would be in New Delhi within a week. During the war, his twin-engined Beechcraft was destroyed in an Indian air raid on the Chaklala air base; he was reportedly incensed and demanded US retaliation. Despite Pakistan's surrender to India in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military conflict between India and Pakistan. Indian, Bangladeshi and international sources consider the beginning of the war to be Operation Chengiz Khan, Pakistan's December 3, 1971 pre-emptive strike on 11 Indian airbases...

, Yeager stayed in Pakistan until March 1973, and recalled his stay in Pakistan as one of the most enjoyable times of his life. During his stay he spent most of his time flying in a F-86 Sabre with the Pakistan Air Force and making several expeditions to the K2
K2
K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth, after Mount Everest...

 mountain, vacationing in Swat, trekking and hunting in the Northern Areas
Northern Areas
Gilgit-Baltistan , is the northernmost political entity within Pakistan. It borders Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province to the west, Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor to the north, China to the east and northeast, Azad Kashmir to the southwest, and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the...

, and learning the Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 language.

Merits

  Command pilot
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal was created by an act of the United States Congress on July 6, 1960. The medal was intended as a new decoration of the United States Air Force to replace the policy of awarding the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Air Force personnel.The Air Force...

Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

, for shooting down five Bf 109s in one day, with one oak leaf cluster
Oak leaf cluster
An oak leaf cluster is a common device which is placed on U.S. Army and Air Force awards and decorations to denote those who have received more than one bestowal of a particular decoration. The number of oak leaf clusters typically indicates the number of subsequent awards of the decoration...

Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

 with one oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The...

, for an Me 262 kill, with two oak leaf clusters, including first to break the sound barrier
Bronze Star
Bronze Star Medal
The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the...

, for helping rescue a fellow airman from Occupied France, with “V” device
Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

Air Medal
Air Medal
The Air Medal is a military decoration of the United States. The award was created in 1942, and is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.-Criteria:...

 with 10 oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
American Defense Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
The American Defense Service Medal is a decoration of the United States military, recognizing service before America’s entry into the Second World War but during the initial years of the European conflict.-Criteria:...

American Campaign Medal
American Campaign Medal
The American Campaign Medal was a military decoration of the United States armed forces which was first created on November 6, 1942 by issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt...

European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal is a military decoration of the United States armed forces which was first created on November 6, 1942 by issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt...

 (8 battle stars)
World War II Victory Medal
World War II Victory Medal
The World War II Victory Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was created by an act of Congress in July 1945. The decoration commemorates military service during World War II and is awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of...

Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...


  • Congressional Silver Medal
    Congressional Silver Medal
    A Congressional Silver Medal is a commemorative award authorized by the United States Congress to recognize citizens for noteworthy actions. The medal is then specially minted by the United States Treasury....

     (1976), for breaking the sound barrier for the first time.

  • Collier Trophy
    Collier Trophy
    The Collier Trophy is an annual aviation award administered by the U.S. National Aeronautics Association , presented to those who have made "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space...

     and Mackay Trophy
    MacKay trophy
    The Mackay Trophy was established on 27 January 1911 by Clarence Hungerford Mackay, who was then head of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company and the Commercial Cable Company. Originally, aviators could compete for the trophy annually under rules made each year or the War Department could award the...

    , for breaking the sound barrier for the first time.

Post-retirement career

On March 1, 1975, following assignments in Germany and Pakistan, he retired from the Air Force at Norton Air Force Base
Norton Air Force Base
Norton Air Force Base is a former front-line United States Air Force facility located east of downtown San Bernardino, California in San Bernardino County.-Overview:...

, but still occasionally flew for the USAF and NASA as a consulting test pilot at Edwards AFB. For his consultant work to the Test Pilot School Commander at Edwards Air Force Base, Yeager was paid one dollar annually, along with all the flying time he wanted. The $1 allowed him to be covered by workers compensation.

For several years, Yeager was the public face of AC Delco, the automotive parts division of General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

. Because of this, AC Delco experienced a sales surge.

In 1986 Yeager was invited to drive the Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette
The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors that has been produced in six generations. The first model, a convertible, was designed by Harley Earl and introduced at the GM Motorama in 1953 as a concept show car. Myron Scott is credited for naming the car after...

 pace car for the 70th running of the Indianapolis 500
1986 Indianapolis 500
The 70th Indianapolis 500 was held at Indianapolis on Saturday, May 31, 1986. After being rained out on May 25–26, the race was rescheduled for the following weekend...

. In 1988
1988 Indianapolis 500
The 72nd Indianapolis 500 was held Sunday May 29, 1988 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Team Penske dominated the month, sweeping the top three starting positions with Rick Mears winning the pole position, Danny Sullivan on the inside of the front row, and Al Unser, Sr. on the outside...

 he was again invited to drive the pace car, this time at the wheel of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

Through the years, Yeager delivered a number of aviation and test pilot related speeches to a variety of groups ranging from test pilots, Air Force Association
Air Force Association
The Air Force Association is an independent, 501 non-profit, civilian education organization, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia...

 banquets, Civil Air Patrol, Experimental Aircraft Association, and even the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) National Meeting entitled "Breaking Barriers" in Honolulu in October 1995. Yeager easily adapted his talk to a given audience on the importance of stabilator
Stabilator
A stabilator is an aircraft control surface that combines the functions of an elevator and a horizontal stabilizer...

s and their role in giving America air combat supremacy. Yeager was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame
National Aviation Hall of Fame
The American National Aviation Hall of Fame is located at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, east Dayton, Ohio...

 in 1973, and in 1990, included with the first class of inductees into the Aerospace Walk of Honor
Aerospace Walk of Honor
The Aerospace Walk of Honor in Lancaster, California, USA, honors test pilots who have contributed to aviation and space research and development....

.

Yeager made a cameo appearance in the movie The Right Stuff (1983). He played "Fred," a bartender at "Pancho's Place," which was most appropriate, since of Pancho's Place Yeager said, "if all the hours were ever totaled, I reckon I spent more time at her place than in a cockpit over those years." His own role in the movie is played by Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard is an American playwright, actor, and television and film director. He is the author of several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child...

.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yeager set a number of light, general aircraft performance records for speed, range, and endurance. Most notable were flights conducted on behalf of Piper Aircraft. On one such flight, Yeager performed an emergency landing as a result of fuel exhaustion; on another flight he piloted Piper's turboprop
Turboprop
A turboprop engine is a type of turbine engine which drives an aircraft propeller using a reduction gear.The gas turbine is designed specifically for this application, with almost all of its output being used to drive the propeller...

 Cheyenne 400LS to a time-to-height record: FL350 (35,000 feet) in 16 minutes, exceeding the climb performance of a Boeing 737 at gross weight.

Yeager is fully retired from military test flying, after having maintained that status for three decades after his official retirement from the Air Force. On October 14, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight past Mach 1, he flew a new Glamorous Glennis III, an F-15D Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

, past Mach 1, with Lt. Col. Troy Fontaine as co-pilot. The chase plane for the flight was an F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

 piloted by Bob Hoover
Bob Hoover
Robert A. "Bob" Hoover is a former air show pilot and United States Air Force test pilot, known for his wide-brimmed straw hat and wide smile. In aviation circles, he is often referred to as "The pilots' pilot."-Aviation career:...

, a famous air-show pilot, and his wingman for the first supersonic flight. This was Yeager's last official flight with the Air Force. At the end of his speech to the crowd he concluded, "All that I am... I owe to the Air Force." Later that month, Yeager was the recipient of the Tony Jannus Award
Tony Jannus Award
The Tony Jannus Award recognizes outstanding individual achievement in scheduled commercial aviation by airline executives, inventors and manufacturers, and government leaders. The award is conferred annually by the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society and was first bestowed in 1964 in Tampa,...

for his achievements.

Awards and honors

In 2004, Congress voted to authorize the President to promote Yeager to the rank of major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 on the retired list. In 2005, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 granted the promotion of both Yeager and (posthumously) air-power pioneer Billy Mitchell to major general.

Yeager, who never attended college and was often modest about his background, is considered by some to be one of the greatest pilots of all time. Despite his lack of higher education, he has been honored in his home state. Marshall University
Marshall University
Marshall University is a coeducational public research university in Huntington, West Virginia, United States founded in 1837, and named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States....

 has named its highest academic scholarship, the Society of Yeager Scholars
Society of Yeager Scholars
The Society of Yeager Scholars is the name of the highest academic scholarship offered at Marshall University, named in honor of Chuck Yeager, the first recorded pilot to break the sound barrier.-General information:...

, in his honor. Additionally, Yeager Airport
Yeager Airport
Yeager Airport is a public-use airport located three nautical miles east of the central business district of Charleston, a city in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States. It is owned by the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority...

 in Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers in Kanawha County. As of the 2010 census, it has a population of 51,400, and its metropolitan area 304,214. It is the county seat of Kanawha County.Early...

, is named after him. The Interstate 64
Interstate 64
Interstate 64 is an Interstate Highway in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Its western terminus is at I-70, U.S. 40, and U.S. 61 in Wentzville, Missouri. Its eastern terminus is at an interchange with I-264 and I-664 at Bowers Hill in Chesapeake, Virginia. As I-64 is concurrent with...

/Interstate 77
Interstate 77
Interstate 77 is an Interstate Highway in the eastern United States. It traverses diverse terrain, from the mountainous state of West Virginia to the rolling farmlands of North Carolina and Ohio. It largely supplants the old U.S...

 bridge over the Kanawha River
Kanawha River
The Kanawha River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, it has formed a significant industrial region of the state since the middle of the 19th century.It is formed at the town of Gauley...

 in Charleston is named for Yeager. He was the chairman of Experimental Aircraft Association
Experimental Aircraft Association
The Experimental Aircraft Association is an international organization of aviation enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Since its inception it has grown internationally with over 160,000 members and about 1,000 chapters worldwide....

's Young Eagle Program
Young Eagles
Young Eagles is a program created by the US Experimental Aircraft Association designed to give children between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating children about aviation. This program is offered free of charge with donations and...

.

The state of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 honored Yeager with a marker along Corridor G
Corridor G (Appalachian Development Highway System)
Corridor G is a highway in the U.S. states of Kentucky and West Virginia. It is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, encompassing US 119 for its length...

 (part of U.S. 119
U.S. Route 119
U.S. Route 119, commonly abbreviated as US 119, is a spur of US 19. It is a north–south route that was an original United States highway of 1926. It is often referred to as Corridor G east of US 23 and KY 80 in Kentucky to Interstate 64 at Charleston, West Virginia.- Kentucky :US 119 is a two...

) in his home Lincoln County on October 19, 2006, as well as renamed part of the highway the Yeager Highway.

Yeager is an Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope
Wings of Hope (charity)
Founded in 1962, Wings of Hope is the oldest and largest volunteer, humanitarian, aviation based charity in the world. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, they organize and maintain over 3,000 volunteers in 154 bases in 45 countries. Wings of Hope is strictly humanitarian, meaning they have no...

.

On August 25, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver
Maria Owings Shriver is an American journalist and author of six best-selling books. She has received a Peabody Award, and was co-anchor for NBC's Emmy-winning coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. As executive producer of The Alzheimer's Project, Shriver earned two Emmy Awards and an Academy of...

 announced that Yeager would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame
California Hall of Fame
Conceived by First Lady Maria Shriver, the California Hall of Fame was established at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts to honor individuals and families who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history...

 inductees in The California Museum's yearlong exhibit. The induction ceremony was on December 1, 2009 in Sacramento
Sacramento
Sacramento is the capital of the state of California, in the United States of America.Sacramento may also refer to:- United States :*Sacramento County, California*Sacramento, Kentucky*Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta...

, California.

Yeager served on the Rogers Commission that investigated the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

 on STS-51-L
STS-51-L
STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...

. The Sacramento ABC affiliate sent a crew to Yeager's home, a few miles northeast of the city, following disaster's coverage on Nightline.Yeager provided a voice of calm, confidence, and understanding during the interview, saying "they [NASA] have all the telemetry data available to understand what happened, and it will be just a matter of time to analyze it," while noting the risk accepted by crews in aeronautical flight tests.

Personal life

Yeager's and his wife Glennis moved to Grass Valley, California
Grass Valley, California
-2010:The 2010 United States Census reported that Grass Valley had a population of 12,860. The population density was 2,711.3 people per square mile . The racial makeup of Grass Valley was 11,493 White, 46 African American, 208 Native American, 188 Asian, 9 Pacific Islander, 419 from other...

 after his retirement from the Air Force in 1975. The couple prospered because of Yeager's best-selling autobiography, speaking engagements and commercial ventures. Glennis Yeager died of ovarian cancer in 1990. They had four children.

In 2000, Yeager met actress Victoria Scott D'Angelo on a hiking trail in Nevada County and started dating shortly thereafter. The pair married in August 2003.

Subsequent to the commencement of their relationship, a bitter dispute arose between Yeager, his children and D'Angelo. The children contended that the much younger D'Angelo had married him for his fortune, which Yeager and D'Angelo denied. Litigation ensued, in which his children accused D'Angelo of "undue influence" on Yeager, and Yeager accused his children of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars from his pension fund.

Yeager, with his wife, currently lives in Penn Valley, California, the location of the General Chuck Yeager Foundation, which supports programs that "teach the ideals by which General Yeager has lived."

See also


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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