GRASS VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace and quintessential test pilot who showed he had the “right stuff” when in 1947 he became the first person to fly faster than sound, has died. He was 97.
Yeager died Monday, his wife, Victoria Yeager, said on his Twitter account.
On Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager, then a 24-year-old captain, pushed an orange, bullet-shaped Bell X-1 rocket plane past 660 mph (1,062 kph) to break the sound barrier, at the time a daunting aviation milestone.
“Sure, I was apprehensive,” he said in 1968. “When you’re fooling around with something you don’t know much about, there has to be apprehension. But you don’t let that affect your job.”
The modest Yeager said in 1947 he could have gone even faster if the plane had carried more fuel. He said the ride “was nice, just like riding fast in a car.”
Yeager nicknamed the rocket plane, and all his other aircraft, “Glamorous Glennis” for his first wife, who died in 1990.