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Charles E. Yeager

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Brigadier General USAF

First to Fly Faster

than the Speed of Sound

Born Myra, West Virginia

February 13, 1923—


Charles Elwood Yeager enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941 and received his pilot’s wings in March 1943. Assigned to the 357th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force in England, "Chuck" Yeager's skill and aggressiveness soon made him a leading "Ace" with 13 victories, five of which were achieved on a single mission. On March 5, 1944, he was shot down over enemy territory but evaded capture escaping to safety through Spain.

In July 1945, assigned to the Army Air Forces Flight Test Center at Wright Field, Ohio, he began a long and distinguished career as the nation's most outstanding experimental test pilot. On October 14, 1947, at Edwards AFB, he became the first human being to pilot an aircraft faster than the speed of sound in the Bell X-1 and on December 12. 1953, in a later model of this rocket powered research aircraft, became the first to exceed Mach 2, twice the speed of sound.

In October 1954, after graduation from the Air Staff College, he returned to tactical flying as a Squadron Commander in Germany. In 1961 he was designated Commander of the Air Force Research Pilot School at Edwards AFB, and in July 1966 assumed command of the 405th Fighter Wing, flying 127 combat missions in South Vietnam. He closed his distinguished career as Director of Aerospace Safety for the Air Force, retiring from active duty February 29, 1975. He remains in 1984 special consultant to the Air Force flying the latest experimental fighter aircraft at the Edwards AFB Test Center.

In addition to his many decorations for valor, he has been honored with the award of the Collier, Mackay, and Harmon Intemational Trophies for his contributions to the advance of aero-science.

Invested 1966 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

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