Brigadier General Charles Elwood Yeager ( February 13, 1923 – December 7, 2020) was a United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot who broke the sound barrier in level flight in 1947.Yeager was born in West Virginia and raised in Hamlin. In 1941, he joined the Army Air Forces as a private in the US Army.
After serving as an aircraft mechanic, he entered enlisted pilot training in September 1942 and was promoted to the rank of flight officer upon graduation. He later achieved the majority of his aerial victories as a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot on the Western Front, where he was credited with shooting down 11.5 enemy planes.
He became a “ace in a day” on October 12, 1944, when he shot down five enemy planes in a single operation. During the Vietnam War, Yeager was in charge of fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and Southeast Asia. In 1969, he was promoted to brigadier general and inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and he retired on March 1, 1975, in acknowledgment of his accomplishments and the exceptional performance ratings of those units.
His active-duty flying career extended more than 30 years and carried him to various regions of the globe, including the Korean War and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.Many consider Yeager to be one of the finest pilots of all time, and he was named sixth among the 51 Heroes of Aviation by Flying magazine in 2013.
He flew more than 360 different types of aircraft during the course of his 70-year career as a consultant pilot for the US Air Force, and he continued to fly for another two decades after retiring.
Many consider Yeager to be one of the greatest pilots of all time, including Flying Magazine, the California Hall of Fame, the State of West Virginia, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, a few US presidents, and the United States Army Air Force. Yeager never attended college and was often modest about his background.
He was named the sixth best pilot of all time by Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine in 2003. Despite his lack of formal schooling, Marshall University in West Virginia established its highest academic scholarship after him: the Society of Yeager Scholars.
Yeager also served as chairman of the Young Eagle Program of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) from 1994 to 2004 and was later designated chairman emeritus of the programme. The International Air and Space Hall of Fame inducted Yeager in 1966.
In 1981, the International Space Hall of Fame inducted him.He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Aerospace Walk of Honor in 1990.His name is commemorated at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia. In Charleston, he is commemorated by the Interstate 64/Interstate 77 bridge across the Kanawha River.
He also flew right beneath the Kanawha Bridge, which was renamed the Chuck E. Yeager Bridge by West Virginia after him. On October 19, 2006, the state of West Virginia honoured Yeager with a memorial along Corridor G in his hometown of Lincoln County, as well as renaming a section of the highway the Yeager Highway.
Wings of Hope, a humanitarian organisation, has Yeager as an honorary board member.Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced on August 25, 2009 that Yeager would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame honorees featured in a yearlong exhibit at The California Museum. Sacramento, California, hosted the induction ceremony on December 1, 2009.
Yeager was placed No. 5 on Flying Magazine’s 51 Heroes of Aviation list in 2013, and he was the highest-ranking living person on the list for many years.As part of its Aerospace Education programme, the Civil Air Patrol, a voluntary auxiliary of the United States Air Force, honours senior members with the Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager Award.
On September 12, 1941, Yeager enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) as a private and was sent to George Air Force Base in Victorville, California, as an aircraft mechanic. Because of his age and educational background, Yeager was not eligible for flight training when he enlisted, but the USAAF changed its recruiting rules after the United States entered World War II less than three months later.
Yeager’s vision was exceptionally keen (visual acuity of 20/10), allowing him to shoot a deer from 600 yards away (550 m). He was a crew chief on an AT-11 when he received his flight training acceptance.At Luke Field, Arizona, when he graduated from Class 43C on March 10, 1943, he obtained his pilot wings and was promoted to flight officer.
He was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group in Tonopah, Nevada, and trained as a fighter pilot, flying Bell P-39 Airacobras, before being sent overseas on November 23, 1943. Yeager’s flying abilities and battle command were excellent.
He was the first pilot in his group to make a “ace in a day” on October 12, 1944, when he shot down five enemy planes in a single operation. When he came into firing position against a Messerschmitt Bf 109, the pilot panicked and broke to starboard, colliding with his wingman.
Both pilots, according to Yeager, got out of the plane. He had 11.5 official victories by the end of the war, including one of the first air-to-air victories over a jet fighter, a German Messerschmitt Me 262, which he shot down on final approach to landing.
Yeager wrote in his memoirs from 1986 that “both sides committed atrocities,” and that he embarked on a mission with the Eighth Air Force’s orders to “strafe anything that moved.””If we’re going to do things like this, we better make sure we’re on the winning side,” he said quietly to Major Donald H. Bochkay during the mission briefing.
“I’m not proud of that strafing mission against people,” Yeager added. But it’s on the record, and it’s in my mind.” He was particularly enraged by his treatment by the British throughout WWII, calling them as “arrogant” and “nasty.” Yeager was a fighter pilot first and foremost, with many squadron and wing commands under his belt.
He led the F-86H Sabre-equipped 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (50th Fighter-Bomber Wing) at Hahn AB, West Germany, and Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France, from 1954 to 1957, and the F-100D Super Sabre-equipped 1st Fighter Day Squadron at George Air Force Base, California, and Morón Air Base, Spain, from 1957 to 1960.
After completing a year of study and a final thesis on STOL aircraft at the Air War College, Yeager was named the first commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, which produced astronauts for NASA and the USAF, after it was renamed from the USAF Flight Test Pilot School in 1962.
Yeager’s sole flight with Neil Armstrong was in April 1962. Their mission was to fly a T-33 over Smith Ranch Dry Lake in Nevada to see if it could be used as an emergency landing spot for the North American X-15. Armstrong insisted on flying out despite the fact that the lake bed was unsuitable for landings due to recent rains, according to Yeager’s memoirs.
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P.O. Box 579
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P.O. Box 579
Penn Valley, CA 95946
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