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Home > Real Men > Military > Chuck Yeager
 

Chuck Yeager

Dates

Born February 13, 1923. Myra, West Virginia.

Marriage

Glennis Dickhouse, February 26, 1945. 4 children (Susan, Don, Sharon). Died of cancer, December 1990.
Victoria Scott D'Angelo
, August 2003

Biography

Charles Elwood Yeager grew up in the West Virginia village of Hamlin. After graduating high school in 1941, Yeager enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. Yeager was trained as a mechanic, but applied for the "Flying Sergeants" program. Yeager entered training in 1942 and was sent to England in November of 1943 as part of the first unit to receive the P-51 Mustang.

Chuck YeagerOne day, Yeager was leading three squadrons of P-51s, escorting a bombing group into Germany. Yeager's squadron came upon 22 ME-109s, of which Yeager personally shot down five.

On March 5, 1944, Yeager was shot down during a dogfight with three German fighters. Yeager, wounded, hid in the woods for a day. He contacted a French farmer, who notified the resistance forces. Yeager made his way through France and into Spain, eventually returning to his squadron.

Army rules at the time required all downed flyers to be returned to the United States. This was to keep them from compromising infromation about the French resistance. Yeager petitioned all the way up to General Eisenhower in an attempt to stay flying. By this time, the invasion of France was underway and Eisenhower allowed Yeager to rejoin his squadron. At the end of the war, Yeager had flown 64 combat missions, shooting down 13 enemy aircraft.

Upon returning to the United States after the war, Yeager, and all airmen who had been shot down, were allowed their choice of base. Yeager choose Wright Field, close to his home town. At Wright Field, the fighter test section was in need of a maintenance officer, and Yeager was qualified. Yeager's performance caught the eye of Colonel Boyd, chief of the test flight division, who encouraged Yeager to attend test pilot school.

On August 14, 1947, while serving as a test pilot, Yeager flew the Bell X-1 past Mach 1, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier (although there are some disputes to that claim). On December 12, 1953, Yeager flew the X-1A to Mach 2.3. Yeager left the test pilot program in 1954, serving as commander for F-86 and F-100 fighter squadrons.

Yeager returned as commander of the test pilot school in 1960 and later the astronaut school. In 1968, Yeager, a former enlisted airman with only a high school education, was promoted to Brigadier General.

Yeager was a primary subject of the 1979 book 'The Right Stuff' by Tom Wolfe, and was portrayed by Sam Shepard in the 1983 movie based on the book. Yeager has a cameo in the film, and has done commercials for AC Delco and Electronic Arts.

 

Chuck Yeager on the web...
ChuckYeager.com, 'Official website of an aviation legend!'
Chuck Yeager on Wikipedia.

 
 

 
 
   
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