Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to travel faster than the speed of sound has died at the age of 97. His wife, Victoria Yeager, announced the news of his death, on his official Twitter account.
She did not give a cause of death, but said he died just before 9 p.m. ET, adding that his “strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever.”
US Air Force Brigadier Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager is popularly known for his most famous flight that happened Oct. 14, 1947, in an experimental Bell X-1 rocket plane. At that time, he was 24 years old and already recovering from two broken ribs from a horse-riding accident.
Yeager became even more popular when in 2010, he took to Twitter sharing his memories and stories with people decades younger than him.
Yeager was born in Myra, West Virginia, and was a fighter pilot “ace” in World Wat II, who helped down 13 German planes.
After the war, Yeager flew maintenance missions with a test pilot school, that is Edwards Air Force Base in California now. It was there that he was assigned to test fly the experimental Bell X-1 rocket plane, Glamorous Glennis (named after his wife), shaped like a .45 caliber bullet, through the sound barrier.
On the Oct. 14 flight, Yeager reached the speed of Mach 1.06 (where Mach 1.0 is the speed of sound) or around 700 miles-per-hour. His 20-second sojourn triggered a thunderous clap that rang out over the Mojave Desert, the first sonic boom in the history of human aviation.
“I thought I was seeing things! We were flying supersonic!” Yeager wrote in his autobiography. “It was as smooth as a baby’s bottom: Grandma could be sitting up there sipping lemonade.”
Yeager was “master of the sky,” wrote Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff, the famous film that captured the breaking the sound barrier. “His was a king’s solitude, unique and inviolate, above the dome of the world.”
Yeager later went on to break more speed records, test fly a captured Russian jet during the Korean War, and command squadrons of fighters and bombers during the Vietnam War, including a stint from 1971 to 1973 as a US advisor to Pakistan during its war with India.
Watch 89 year old Chuck Yeager flying an F-15!
He later retired as a Brigadier General in 1975, saying “All that I am … I owe to the Air Force,” at his retirement ceremony.
A life well-lived, Chuck will always remain America’s greatest pilot ever, a legend, a true hero!