General Chuck Yeager

General Chuck Yeager

General Chuck Yeager

General Charles Elwood ‘‘Chuck’’ Yeager, the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, was born February 13, 1923, at Myra, on upper Mud River about seven miles from the Lincoln County seat of Hamlin. He was the second of five children born to Albert Hal and Susie Mae Sizemore Yeager. The family moved to Hamlin before young Yeager entered the first grade. In 1941, he graduated from Hamlin High School.

Yeager served in Europe during World War II and received his flight training in the military. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 at the age of 18, starting out as an airplane mechanic, then enrolling in a flying sergeant program. He enjoyed great success as a fighter pilot, engaging the early German jets with his prop-driven P-51 Mustang. In all, he flew 64 combat missions. Yeager became ‘‘a double ace,’’ with 13 kills, and destroyed five German planes during a single historic dogfight in November 1944. Stationed in England as a fighter pilot, he was shot down March 5, 1944, on his eighth combat mission. Yeager parachuted unharmed into German-occupied France. He escaped across the Pyrenees into neutral Spain and later rejoined his squadron in England.

After the war, Yeager remained in the Air Force. He became a test pilot in a program at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) that researched high-speed flight.

On October 14, 1947, in a Bell X-1 rocket airplane dropped from a B-29 bomber, Yeager broke the sound barrier by flying 700 miles per hour. He set another speed record on December 12, 1953, by flying two-and-a-half times the speed of sound in a Bell X-1A. Yeager’s X-1, named Glamorous Glennis after his wife, is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

On October 14, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight, Yeager broke the sound barrier again, flying an F-15D Eagle. On October 14, 2012, on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, Yeager did it again in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle at the age of 89.