In the world of aviation, a few names come up as those who shaped the field forever. The Wright Brothers, Amelia Earheart, and Chuck Yeager are all trailblazers in their own right.

General Yeager had a lengthy and celebrated career in the United States Army beginning in the early 1940s, and later that decade, he moved to the Air Force and became the first test pilot to break the sound barrier. This accomplishment earned him the title of “the fastest man alive.”

He has been an inspiration to many experienced and budding pilots alike. Even though he died at the age of 97 in late 2020, his legend continues.

Let’s learn more about this aviation genius.

Yeager’s Path To The Sky

Charles “Chuck” Yeager grew up in West Virginia, an active athlete, a math buff, and a car enthusiast alongside his father. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at 18 after graduating. He became a fighter pilot with the Eighth Air Force stationed in England a few years later before being shot down. Luckily, he was unharmed and escaped capture.

Following the war, he worked as a flight instructor and assistant maintenance officer, where he was responsible for testing planes by flying them after repair.

Yeager flew expedited service trials on the new P-80A Shooting Star, America’s first operational jet fighter. Because of his exceptional ability, he flew in air demonstrations and made his first trip to Muroc Army Airfield (now Edwards AFB) in September 1945.


The Test Pilot Phase

Col. Albert Boyd, the chief of the Flight Test Division, hand-picked Yeager to be a student at Wright Field’s new test pilot school in 1946. Boyd said Yeager was the best’ intuitive’ pilot he’d ever seen, and he’d shown an incredible ability to stay calm and concentrated in high-stress situations.

This is how he earned the title of “mach buster.” Yeager crossed the invisible boundary to fly faster than the speed of sound in the Bell X-1A, which he nicknamed after his wife, the Glamorous Glennis. He reached a high speed of Mach 1.06 or 700 miles per hour. Peruse the flight information, including recordings!

For this, he received the Collier Trophy, aviation’s top accolade. “This is an epochal achievement in the history of world aviation,” it said, appropriately encapsulating the significance of his flight.

Yeager dubbed these years the “golden age of flying and fun.” It was a moment when the boundaries of time, space, and imagination were pushed to new heights.


Squadron Commanding And Retirement

His career led him to lead flight schools and perform in air shows, and he was posted all over the U.S. and even in Korea. Even though he was the leader of many squadrons until his official retirement in 1975, he continually tested flights on innovative aircraft.

By the end of his career, he had accumulated a total of 10,131.6 hours in some 361 different types and models of military aircraft.

An aviation book was published in the years following, mentioning Yeager’s many accolades, which turned into a feature film.

Well into the 2000s, he retained the stamina, skill and mental acuity to fly and evaluate the most modern high-performance aircraft.

Are you feeling inspired to take to the sky?

Our team at Fly-Rite Pilot Education is passionate about the world of aviation and loves passing on knowledge and enthusiasm to budding pilots. Learn more about us, and get in touch with any questions you may have!