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Rest in Peace Charles Elwood 'Chuck' Yeager

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Rest in Peace Charles Elwood 'Chuck' Yeager

Old 8th Dec 2020, 20:32
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In The Guardian.
Chuck Yeager, supersonic flight pioneer – a life in pictures
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 20:37
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Very sad news, his biography was truly inspirational.
He'll be sorely missed.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 21:17
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Yeager was indeed a great fighter & test pilot who achieved high rank, although like everyone he had his failings too. He is so universally lauded so a little critique is OK too. He could be quite self promotional, and others noted one situation where others believe he screwed up, lost a plane, and covered up the error even in his memoirs:

Specifically, the rocket assisted F-104 crash that was depicted so famously in The Right Stuff . Yeager blamed it on equipment failure, but others blamed it on Yeager, especially his cowboy attitude and disdain for listening carefully to instructions or thinking through the aerodynamics details.

For example, a couple other test pilots' critiques of the NF-104 episode are found in: NF-104 Space Pilot Trainer

NF-104 test pilot Bob Smith got a partial autobiography & history of the NF-104 online before he passed away in 2010. One part of that summarizes Chuck's famous accident:
Do I think Chuck Yeager fabricated an excuse for his event over the top and the resultant failure in his accident? Undoubtedly, he did. It is possible it was due to confusion by events to which he could not relate, or to merely salvage his image of invincibility. Here was a pilot, one of the best stick and rudder flyers and practiced test pilots, one of the most intuitive in responding to the unknown events of flying for all time who found himself in an environment, in his mind, which is something that he has contended with and conquered for so many years. But he had not accepted from all our briefings that it was not that same environment, and skills to conquer it were different. The AST [AeroSpace Trainer, NF-104] responded in a ways different than any airplane because of a different environment. But little did I expect that it would be his failure to control climb angle in the environment that he understood so well that would be his downfall. Chuck will never comprehend what happened so cannot analyze it except on his terms

But there is that other possibility, stated in the words of one of his long time associates and competitors in flight testing, the famous and first X-15 test pilot A. Scott Crossfield, who I expect read Chuck’s book and, in Scott’s recent speech at the Hiller Museum in Santa Clara, CA, he referred to Chuck Yeager as, “That well known novelist.”
That's all from one of the chapters of Bob's story of the NF-104, at NF104 | Yeager's View in Review

Chuck had great skill & energy & an extraordinary life, but not every tale about him has to be hagiography!
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 21:55
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Originally Posted by Fonsini View Post
I went out of my way to meet him in Phoenix with my wife in tow, and sadly the old adage of “never meet your heroes” held very true on that occasion.
I've heard from several folks over the years that General Yeager never met Will Rogers. A friend who commanded a B-2 test and eval squadron felt that Yeager tried to shake down Northrup for consulting fees on many projects, including the B-2, that he knew little about.

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Old 9th Dec 2020, 08:12
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Great writing Cavuman.
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Old 9th Dec 2020, 10:25
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Like him or loathe him, he was a national hero. After a couple of decades thinking about it, I finally went to see The Indianapolis 500 in 1993. Prior to the race, Yeager led a flypast of 5 x P51s. To a man, 470,000 spectators rose to their feet and cheered. He maybe even heard it.

Last edited by Senior Pilot; 16th Dec 2020 at 01:33. Reason: Jeager?
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Old 9th Dec 2020, 10:33
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He was certainly some gifted stick an rudder guy and old time daredevil and actual warfighter and ace. Sort of a working class hero. No surprise that the new generation of university degree types, astronaut folks and intellectuals didn't like him and vice versa.
In the future this gap might open another time: Now its people that actually do fly versus pure software designers in clean rooms.
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Old 9th Dec 2020, 10:36
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Made my eyes wet...

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Old 9th Dec 2020, 11:55
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Joe Kittinger's big step.

He got to 614 mph...without an aircraft.

Baumgartner broke the sound barrier during his jump, the first human to do so outside a vehicle. Wonder how many people will remember his name in 70 years?
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Old 10th Dec 2020, 05:19
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I grew up admiring Chuck Yeager

He was born the same year as my father and entered service as an aircraft mechanic in the Army Air Corps like my father. Both represented what I wanted to be part of one day.

Went to Oshkosh Airventure 2000 with my son and witnessed Yeager and Bud Anderson flying P-51’s in formation. Stood about 50 feet away as they parked and stepped down from the planes. Explained to my son how lucky we were to be there.

We were lucky to have such men.
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Old 12th Dec 2020, 02:20
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I had the pleasure to meet Gen. Yeager in 1998, at the 50th anniversary celebration of ERA Aviation in Anchorage, AK. They were customer of my company; and I was there as our representative to present a plaque of recognition for the event. He was a good fishing / hunting buddy of one of the company's senior officers; and had been invited as well. It was Mid-Summer's eve; and an absolutely glorious day.

Gen. Yeager and I were on stage together; and we had a very nice chat for few minutes before the ceremony. He could not have been more congenial. I mean, what do a helicopter pilot and the man who broke the sound barrier talk about?! Well, the speeds are different; but it's still flying. It was a memorable experience for me, to say the least.

I later had the pleasure to meet Bob Hoover at a trade show as well; and that just about made my career complete. What a great life being a pilot turned out to be!
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Old 12th Dec 2020, 10:39
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There is unsubstantiated rumor that a Me-262 went supersonic towards the end of WW II.
There's quite a bit on early - probably inadvertent and unrecorded - supersonic excursions in various types in Winkle Brown's "Wings on my Sleeve" - which you should read anyway!

Winkle was a great proponent of the Miles M52 (an early political cancellation?) which would have been a likely contender to beat Chuck to it - but it didn't!!

He (Winkle) wrote a book on the M52, which I'm about to start reading - when I finish re-reading "Wings"!
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Old 12th Dec 2020, 12:03
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Listen to his RAeS lecture on the subject - fascinating stuff. Available from their fabulous lecture archive.
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Old 12th Dec 2020, 19:32
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Originally Posted by Fonsini View Post
I went out of my way to meet him in Phoenix with my wife in tow, and sadly the old adage of “never meet your heroes” held very true on that occasion. No hard feelings here, I still have a portrait of his aircraft “Glamorous Glennis” hanging in my study. Rest In Peace Chuck, you did your bit and then some.
I've heard that before and followed him on Twitter for a time but his attitude to Brit's as he put it turned me off. Perhaps his qualities were a good plane jock who had opportunities to set records but not someone i'd like to have a pub chat with. Some interesting links on him shared in this thread....
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Old 13th Dec 2020, 00:41
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He (Winkle) wrote a book on the M52, which I'm about to start reading
Good book if you love fiction, bit like the quote that Yeager was a good novelist, must be something about certain test pilots.
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Old 13th Dec 2020, 03:28
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
Good book if you love fiction, bit like the quote that Yeager was a good novelist, must be something about certain test pilots.
Yep, Brown and Bancroft were very selective about what documentation they used as sources for that book. A better history is here.


The Q and A session raises some very valid points about the problems that the M.52 would have had in beating the X-1 to breaking the Sound Barrier had it not been cancelled. The air intake design issue was not a minor problem at all and was not an issue that either the X-1 or the model M.52 later launched from a Mosquito had to deal with being both rocket powered.
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Old 13th Dec 2020, 17:55
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Another remembrance of General Yeager in today's Sunday Times.

The Times column is behind a paywall, it is gisted in this Express article:

Jeremy Clarkson admits feeling conflicted after death of his ‘hero’ ‘Should have been sad'

JEREMY CLARKSON - who is best known for hosting Top Gear and The Grand Tour - has opened up following the death of his "hero" Chuck Yeager, as the star recalled an awkward meeting he had with the record-setting test pilot.


PUBLISHED: 14:06, Sun, Dec 13, 2020 | UPDATED: 14:23, Sun, Dec 13, 2020

Jeremy divulged: “They say you should never meet your heroes, and they’re right, because I once met mine. His name was Chuck Yeager.

“He died last week and I should have been sad because I’d been brought up on stories of how this natural-born, stick-and-rudder, speak-as-I-find redneck won the war single-handedly, with no help at all from the RAF or Polish airmen.

“He was shot down over France and evaded the Nazis to make his escape, then, two years after the war ended, he became the first man to break the sound barrier.”

However, The Grand Tour presenter then shared his disappointment over his first meeting with Chuck.

He admitted: “I had wanted to talk to Yeager about this for a television show I was making, and then one day, after months of me trying, he called my production office from his home in Sacramento, California, saying he would do the interview the next day.

“As I was in Chipping Norton, this presented something of a challenge, but as it was Chuck Yeager, I did a lot of tyre-squealing, and running at airports, and the next day the film crew and I pulled into his driveway at 3.15pm.”

Unfortunately for Jeremy, his interview with the United States Air Force officer got off to a bad start due to the last minute nature of the appointment making him late.

The star recalled: “He was standing there, looking at his watch and, as I climbed out of the car, he said: ‘You’re 15 minutes late.’

“Naturally, I assumed he was joking, so I replied: ‘That’s nothing. You were three years late for the Second World War.’ He turned on his heel, went inside and slammed the door.

“After we negotiated for some time with his equally angry wife, he eventually agreed to do the interview. But only if we sat next to his extremely noisy fridge.”

Jeremy then said Chuck got irritated by his line of questioning during their chat.

He added: “We began to talk about how the Americans had, let’s say, ‘appropriated’ a British wing design to get the Bell X-1 through the sound barrier.

“This wing had been successfully tested during the war and, as a result, the Berkshire-based company Miles Aircraft was well on its way to making a 1,000mph jet plane.

“But then the British government suddenly shut down the operation in 1946, having already given the project’s research to the Americans.

“Yeager denied all this, claiming the British were useless at everything and that ‘the only people I hated more than the Germans in the war were the English’.”

Jeremy said in his latest column for The Sunday Times that the interview escalated to the point where Chuck’s face was “purple with rage”.
Jeremy Clarkson: Top Gear star conflicted after death of his ‘hero’ ‘Should have been sad' | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV | Express.co.uk
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Old 13th Dec 2020, 23:25
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the Americans had, let’s say, ‘appropriated’ a British wing design to get the Bell X-1 through the sound barrier
Just shows Clarkson didn't have a clue either.
having already given the project’s research to the Americans
A bit of a stretch of the facts. American C. B. Millikan was given a briefing on the M.52 and I have a copy of his report, it contains only a general over sight of the 52 and little in depth information, he thought the project interesting but not worthy of further exploration.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 07:24
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Airbubba , Jeremy's article continued
In spite of his negative encounter with Chuck leaving him feeling conflicted over his death, Jeremy revealed he has decided to remember him in a more positive light.

He concluded: “Which is why I shall choose to remember Yeager as he was portrayed on screen by the generous and brave and talented Sam Shepard.

“The right man who played a wrong ’un in what remains one of the greatest films made: The Right Stuff.”
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 20:03
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And, ironically, Chuck Yeager outlived actor Sam Shepard who passed away in 2017 on his horse farm in the Bluegrass Country of Kentucky.

I agree that The Right Stuff is a great movie even though it probably should have the same opening disclaimer as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean: 'Maybe This Isn't The Way It Was - It's The Way It Should Have Been!'
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