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Many of my aviation heroes are complicated people of nuance and contradiction but not this man. As I reflect on his life, so recently ended, I remind myself of his uncompromising, direct manner but also of his enormous courage and skill that brought Charles Edward Yeager to the world’s attention.
Yeager grew up helping his father out on gas drilling rigs.
Yeager joined the Air Force as a Private and became a mechanic but he soon made his way into pilot training.
He was initially given a P39 Aeracobra to fly.
He was sent to Europe to flight, flying the P51 Mustang.
He named his own aircraft Glamorous Glen.
He qualified as an Ace in one day and then shot down a jet powered Me262.
After the war Yeager qualified as a Test Pilot.
Even as a very junior Test Pilot, Yeager was offered the chance to pilot the Bell X1.
Yeager finally took the X!, now named Glamorous Glennis, over Mach 1 becoming the first to break the sound barrier.
Yeager completed a long and successful career in the USAF.
Chuck Yeager passed away in 2020.
Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to SMU Central University, USAF National Museum and the USAF.