Chuck Yeager spent the early 1940s as a U.S. Air Force combat pilot before transitioning to a role as test pilot. As a U.S. Air Force test pilot, Yeager became the first person to break the speed of sound in the X1-Rocket plane, the first American to fly a Russian MiG, and the oldest man to break the sound barrier at the age of 74. Yeager received recognition from Presidents Truman and Eisenhower for his test flight accomplishments.Continue Reading
Yeager flew P-51 fighter aircraft in World War II over Europe and in 1943 was shot down over France. He was able to escape to Spain, get back to England, and request a return to active combat flights. Yeager returned to combat duty and finished the war having shot down 13 Nazi aircraft.
When the war ended, Yeager began a career as a test pilot for the Air Force, including working on fixed-wing, rocket-powered fighter aircraft. The X1-Bell Yeager flew when he first broke the sound barrier was named "Glamorous Glennis" after Yeager's wife. When he broke the sound barrier for the first time, he did so with broken ribs he had sustained days before in a horseback riding accident. Yeager eventually rose to the rank of general for his accomplishments as a pilot.Learn more about Space Travel