Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)
Yeager burned through the so-called sound barrier on Oct. 14, 1947
After I got the job as cub reporter on the Antelope Valley Ledger-Gazette in the summer of 1949, I found it was customary for the newspaper staffers to take a two-minute walk along Sierra Highway for a cocktail hour at Aleck’s steakhouse.
One late afternoon while I was having a beer, the manager of the restaurant entered the bar proclaiming repeatedly, “Chuck Yeager is here.”
“Who the hell is Chuck Yeager?” I asked a friend. The young man, only slightly older than I, entered the bar and we all shook hands.
I soon discovered that he was the first pilot to break through the worrisome sound barrier on a famous flight high above Edwards Air Force Base.
The historic event had been accomplished on Oct. 14, 1947.
Yeager was born on Feb. 13, 1923, in Myra, West Virginia. His career began in 1941 and he entered pilot training in 1942.
During World War II, he piloted a P-51 in the European Theatre and shot down 11 enemy aircraft.
The day before his famous flight, he and his wife Glennis, went horseback riding at Pancho Barnes Happy Bottom Riding Club.
On the ride, he suffered two broken ribs in a fall.
In spite of the pain, he was able to fly the X-1 Glamorous Glennis to a speed that set the record at Mach 1.05 over Rogers Dry Lake. The astounding record was not announced to the public until June of 1948. He was awarded the Mackay Trophy, the Collier Trophy and the Harmon International Trophy.
He was promoted to brigadier general on June 22, 1969.
During the Vietnam War, he took command of the 405th Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base, in the Philippines. He accrued another 414 hours of combat time in 127 missions.
After completing assignments in Germany and
Pakistan, Yeager retired from the Air Force on March 1, 1975. But he continued flying for the USAF and NASA as a consulting test pilot at Edwards AFB.
When Edwards held its annual air shows, he often flew low-level flights over the crowds.
On Oct. 14, 2012 — on the 65th anniversary of the famous flight — he broke the sound barrier again as a copilot in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base.
His lengthy biography shows a page full of 24 outstanding awards.
On Feb. 13, of this year he marked his 97th birthday.