Chuck Yeager, the American pilot who broke the sound barrier, has died at 97

Retired United States Air Force Brigadier General Charles “Chuck” Yeager, who piloted a fighter jet in World War II and was the test pilot who became the first person to fly faster than sound in 1947, has died. He was 97 years old.

Miami World / Telemundo 51

Yeager died Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement, describing his death as “a tremendous loss to our country.”

“Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America’s air capability and blew our nation’s dreams into the jet age and the space age. He said: ‘Don’t focus on the risks. Focus on the results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary work from being done, ‘”Brindenstine said in his statement.

“In an age of media heroes, he’s authentic,” Edwards Air Force Base historian Jim Young said in August 2006 when a bronze statue of Yeager was unveiled.

Born in a small town in the hills of West Virginia, Yeager piloted for more than 60 years, which included piloting an X-15 at nearly 1,000 miles per hour in October 2002, at age 79.

“Reaching old age is not an end in itself. The trick is to enjoy the years that remain, “he wrote in” Yeager: An Autobiography. “

Four astronauts travel aboard the rocket and will be in space for a mission that will last six months.

“I haven’t done it all, but by the time I’m done, I won’t have missed much,” he wrote. “If I crash tomorrow after falling into a spin, it won’t be with a frown. I really enjoyed it”.

Yeager shot down 13 German aircraft in 64 missions during World War II, including five in a single mission. He was shot down over occupied France, but escaped with the help of French partisans.

After World War II, he became a test pilot at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The discovery was made using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a reflecting telescope.

On October 14, 1947, when he was a 24-year-old captain, he managed to put a Bell X-1, an orange, bullet-shaped aircraft, above 660 miles to break the sound barrier, an aviation milestone. .

His feat was kept secret for about a year, and the world thought that the British had broken the sound barrier earlier.

His feat was chronicled in the book “The Right Stuff” (translated as “What You Must Have: Chosen for Glory”) by Tom Wolfe, and in the 1983 film that inspired the book.

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