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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, 02:52
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Rest in Peace Charles Elwood 'Chuck' Yeager

Just got word that Chuck Yeager passed away on Pearl Harbor Day 2020.

Chuck Yeager, famed pilot and legendary West Virginian, has died

By Brad McElhinny
December 7, 2020 - 10:42 pmChuck Yeager, World War II ace, daring test pilot and legendary West Virginian, has died.

His wife, Victoria, announced Yeager’s death on Twitter and highlighted his “legacy of strength, adventure and patriotism.” She did not state a cause of death. Yeager was 97.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 03:12
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Thnx, Bubba.

Another nickel on the grass for me this last two weeks, as I lost two of my room mates from the Blue Zoo.

I had the honor of meeting the guy two times, but could only "really" talk with him once.
As many legends showed up in 1979 at Hill to visit the first F-16 squadron, he followed. Unlike the others that looked around and shook some hands and departed, he came into our "theater" briefing room, sat on the edge of the stage and then talked with us for an hour or more. No holds barred, and he answered all our questions plus volunteered neat war stories.

Gums sends...
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 03:26
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Originally Posted by gums View Post

Thnx, Bubba.

Another nickel on the grass for me this last two weeks, as I lost two of my room mates from the Blue Zoo.

I had the honor of meeting the guy two times, but could only "really" talk with him once.
As many legends showed up in 1979 at Hill to visit the first F-16 squadron, he followed. Unlike the others that looked around and shook some hands and departed, he came into our "theater" briefing room, sat on the edge of the stage and then talked with us for an hour or more. No holds barred, and he answered all our questions plus volunteered neat war stories.

Gums sends...
Bob Hoover has met him at the pearly gates and they’re headed to the happy bottom riding club.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 03:43
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Obit from The Washington Post:

Chuck Yeager, test pilot who broke sound barrier, dies at 97

By Becky Krystal

Dec. 7, 2020 at 11:23 p.m. EST

Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, a military test pilot who was the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound and live to tell about it, died Dec. 7. He was 97.

His wife, Victoria, announced the death from Gen. Yeager's official Twitter account. Additional details were not immediately available.
For his prowess in flight, Gen. Yeager became one of the great American folk heroes of the 1940s and 1950s. A self-described West Virginia hillbilly with a high school education, he said he came “from so far up the holler, they had to pipe daylight to me.” He became one of the greatest aviators of his generation, combining abundant confidence with an innate understanding of engineering mechanics — what an airplane could do under any form of stress.

He first stepped into a cockpit during World War II after joining the Army Air Forces directly out of high school. By the end of the war, he was a fighter ace credited with shooting down at least 12 German planes, including five in one day. Making the military his career, he emerged in the late 1940s as one of the newly created Air Force’s most revered test pilots.

His success in breaking the sound barrier launched America into the supersonic age. While airplanes had long had the power to achieve great speeds, changes in aerodynamic design allowed pilots such as Gen. Yeager to overcome the problems of supersonic air flow as they approached the speed of sound.

He later trained men who would go on to join NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. Throughout his life, he broke numerous speed and altitude records, including becoming the first person to travel 21/2 times the speed of sound.

Breaking the sound barrier

His greatest breakthrough occurred on Oct. 14, 1947, when a B-29 aircraft released then-Capt. Yeager and his squat, orange Bell X-1 experimental craft at nearly 20,000 feet over California’s Mojave Desert. The Bell X-1 was propelled by a four-chamber rocket engine and a volatile mix of ethyl alcohol, water and liquid oxygen, and Gen. Yeager named it “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife. Gen. Yeager, traveling at nearly 700 mph, broke the sound barrier.
Breaking the sound barrier was an important military milestone, said Bob van der Linden, chair of the aeronautics division at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where the record-breaking plane is on display.“You win with speed,” van der Linden said. “With the advent of jets and rockets as well, every country was trying to push the limits of technology.”

Van der Linden said Gen. Yeager’s flight and his dedication to helping engineers build better planes helped pave the way for the country’s superiority in military aircraft design for years to come.

Because of the top-secret nature of the work, the Air Force did not publicly acknowledge Gen. Yeager’s most significant flight in the X-1. By December, enough information had been leaked to allow Aviation Week to publish a story. The government didn’t confirm the flight until close to six months later, and even then, Gen. Yeager had been coached to reveal few details of what happened when he reached Mach 1 (named after the German physicist Ernst Mach).
Pilots, including Gen. Yeager, reported trouble controlling aircraft as they approached the sound barrier. But, as he would say in his 1985 memoir, once the X-1 exceeded Mach 1, the ride “was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.”“Anybody can fly faster than sound as long as he wants to so far as the physical effects are concerned,” the Associated Press quoted Gen. Yeager as saying in 1949. “The fact is, it’s no different than sitting in your armchair at home.”

Such characteristic nonchalance — not to be confused with overabundant confidence — may have elevated rather than played down his achievement, considering the danger inherent in his line of work. Famed British test pilot Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. died in pursuit of Mach 1 in 1946, and others working for private companies had been killed in experimental craft as well. More perished in the years after Gen. Yeager’s flight.
Gen. Yeager refused to hold back when discussing some of his colleagues’ deaths, attributing accidents to pilot error, lack of experience or poor judgment. When
Scott Crossfield, the man who beat him to Mach 2, died in a plane crash in 2006 during a thunderstorm, Gen. Yeager told the Associated Press that Crossfield would do things, such as flying in bad weather, that “exceeded his capability.”

Many near misses

Not that Gen. Yeager’s career lacked its frightening moments. While he was able to pull out of at least one situation in 1953, when his plane spun out of control for 50,000 feet, he wasn’t so lucky in 1963 when, after reaching near space, he ejected from an NF-104 and suffered burns that required several surgeries.

Gen. Yeager and others attributed his success as a test pilot to his calm demeanor even in the face of death — “I’ll be back all right. In one piece, or a whole lot of pieces,” Time magazine article quoted him as saying in 1949.
Gen. Yeager appeared just as nonplussed after the publication of Tom Wolfe’s bestselling 1979 book “The Right Stuff,” which documented the heyday of test piloting and the early U.S. space program. A popular 1983 film version, starring
Sam Shepard as Yeager, similarly lionized the test pilot for a mass audience. Gen. Yeager had a cameo appearance as a bartender.While Wolfe described Gen. Yeager as “the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff,” Gen. Yeager claimed to be not that enamored with the designation — “jes’ don’t mean a rat’s fanny,” he told Newsweek in 1985. Nor was he impressed with the interpretation of history in the film adaptation.

Not long after, Gen. Yeager’s bestselling autobiography appeared, followed by endorsement deals that resulted in appearances in commercials for the aerospace and defense company Northrop and the car parts company AC Delco. He retired as an Air Force brigadier general in 1975, although in an honorary gesture, he was promoted to the rank of major general in 2005. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

From W. Va. to World War II ace

Gen. Yeager made no secret of his preference for hunting and fishing over the trappings of celebrity — an image not at odds with the way he described his upbringing in Hamlin, W.Va., where he was born Charles Elwood Yeager on Feb. 13, 1923.
He was one of A. Hal and Susie Yeager’s five children. His father was a gas-well driller, and the family also farmed. He enjoyed gardening, collecting bugs, hunting with a .22-caliber rifle and fishing in the Mud River. Although not a distinguished student, Chuck Yeager excelled in geometry and used his talents to become an excellent pool hustler. Like his father, he also showed great skill in mechanics and as a teen was able to take apart and reassemble a car engine.From his father, he inherited a stoicism toward violent death that became his hallmark as a pilot. When Gen. Yeager was not quite 5, his slightly older brother accidentally shot and killed their infant sister. Rather than erupting in hysterics, the elder Yeager calmly told the children, “I want to show you how to safely handle firearms.”

In September 1941, Chuck Yeager enlisted in the Army Air Forces and trained as a mechanic before heading to flight school and then to Europe as a pilot.
In March 1944, while on his eighth mission, he was shot down over German-occupied France. Members of the French underground helped him avoid German forces, eventually pairing him with another American who had been shot down.The two Americans set off on a grueling journey over the Pyrenees mountain range toward neutral Spain. After pushing their way through knee-deep snow and bitter cold, the exhausted men encountered a cabin in which to rest.

Gen. Yeager’s companion hung his socks outside to dry, a decision that tipped off the Germans to their presence. The Nazis fired into the cabin, forcing the pair to jump out the back window and into a creek. Gen. Yeager realized his companion had been shot in the knee and amputated part of his leg. He carried the injured man into Spain and eventually met up with British forces at Gibraltar. Gen. Yeager returned to England determined to fly again even though regulations prohibited anyone aided by members of the underground from going back on duty. The measure was designed to protect the operatives’ identities should any American be captured by Germans on subsequent missions.
Pursuing a return to combat duty, Gen. Yeager climbed his way up the Air Force hierarchy, “being passed around among colonels and generals” who “enjoyed meeting a very junior officer who refused to go home,” he said in his autobiography. With the help of a sympathetic two-star general, Gen. Yeager secured a meeting with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander.“I just wanted to meet two guys who think they’re getting a raw deal being sent home,” Eisenhower told Gen. Yeager and another pilot who had evaded capture in Holland, Gen. Yeager recalled in his book.

The War Department granted Eisenhower the power to return the pilots to the skies.

For his wartime service, Gen. Yeager received the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.

Test pilot fame

Upon returning from the war, he married his fiancee, the former Glennis Dickhouse, who died in 1990. In 2003, Gen. Yeager married Victoria Scott D’Angelo, who was 36 years his junior. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

After World War II, Gen. Yeager served as a flight instructor in Texas before becoming a test pilot at Wright Field in Ohio. He impressed his superiors enough to be transferred to Muroc Field in California, later renamed Edwards Air Force Base, to work on the coveted X-1 project.

He received the assignment of attempting to reach Mach 1 after a civilian pilot who had been testing the craft demanded a $150,000 bonus, not to mention that the head of the test flight division, Col. Albert Boyd, called him “the best instinctive pilot I ever saw.”

Gen. Yeager came close to missing his appointment with the record books. The Sunday before the flight, the pilot and his wife, Glennis, visited the local watering hole, Pancho's Fly Inn, and then decided to take a late-night horseback ride.

The adventure ended with Gen. Yeager breaking several ribs. To avoid being grounded by an Air Force doctor, he visited an off-base doctor, who told him to take it easy. Instead, he confided in a colleague who helped him fashion a broom handle that would allow Gen. Yeager to close the cockpit of the X-1 with the least amount of pain.

And, so, armed with that implement and little protection other than a leather football helmet, Gen. Yeager accomplished the mission he was given.

“My feelings were immaterial; you have none,” he told Aerospace America in January 2003. “It was your duty, like combat. Some people are going to get killed. You just hope it’s not you.”

Through 1953, Gen. Yeager continued testing planes at Edwards until leaving for Okinawa, Japan, where he flew a Soviet-made MiG captured by Americans. His task was to evaluate the Soviets’ aviation capabilities. Upon returning to the United States in 1957, he became an air squadron commander and then commander of the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards in 1961. He also commanded a fighter wing and flew combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Gen. Yeager may have seemed a natural for the U.S. astronaut program, but he claimed he would not have qualified because he lacked a college degree. He added in his autobiography years later that he had no interest in being an astronaut, as they were “little more than Spam in the can, throwing the right switches on instructions from the ground.”

Long after his record-breaking flight, Gen. Yeager remained a prominent public figure. The Air Force employed him in its recruitment efforts. Politicians sought his endorsement, although he shook off any notion of running for office. He also was appointed by President Reagan to the panel that investigated the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle.

In 2002, Gen. Yeager climbed into an F-15 Eagle at Edwards and broke the sound barrier, with the characteristic sonic boom, for the last time.

“I was probably the last guy who will get to do the kind of flying I did,” he said at the time. “I came into the military as an 18-year-old kid before World War II, never having been in an airplane, never having even seen one on the ground. It turned into quite an opportunity.”

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Old 8th Dec 2020, 04:00
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Just another thing to hate about the year 2020
One of my hero's - even more so after I watched "The Right Stuff" (I still remember the lady I went to see the movie with - during the flight where he broke the sound barrier she turned to me and whispered "I'm sure glad I know how this turned out".)
West Coast -
RIP Chuck.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 06:16
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The early boomers are dying out

Yeagers final Mach Climb

The first filmed publicity of the X1 flight clearly accepts that this was not the 'first' time the sound barrier was broken, but the first in level flight. As with many things American 'not the first' often gets edited to the first. Like the brothers from Ohio, it was the first time they did it, having played catch up as others flew around for years. It's what they do.

Not detracting from the achievement, but, even on this day, let's acknowledged the achievements of those who went before.

37 flights of the X1 before Yeager

12 flights for Yeager before the M 1.06 flight

'The Right Stuff' is not a documentary and it's 'advisor' and 'actor' didn't seem to worry about that.

Went a very long way once, to watch as he strapped into the back of a jet and hear the double pop and rumble as the pilot dropped the 'booms' right on the crowd line at Edwards.

Last edited by Point Merge; 16th Dec 2020 at 06:06.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 06:16
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Certainly an extraordinary long life for someone who flew combat missions and was a test pilot in the early days of jets.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 08:07
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His autobiography makes for interesting reading, perhaps not a work of Shakespeare but it does highlight some of the difficult challenges he was faced with and had to overcome. An incredible self-made person who lived an incredible life. RIP.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 08:10
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From zero to general. Quite a career not avoiding those wartime jobs.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 08:32
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Originally Posted by West Coast View Post
Bob Hoover has met him at the pearly gates and they’re headed to the happy bottom riding club.
Yep, both upside down and not spilling a drop! RIP.

I believe he said something like, "You can back up, but you don't give up." You can live ok by that, I reckon.

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Old 8th Dec 2020, 08:50
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Amazing man.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 09:22
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RIP and Blue Skies sir, he flew the F-20 Tigershark as part of Northrop marketing campaign and like his saying 8n the video “the object today is to strap your Fanny to a 9G fighter” lol

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Old 8th Dec 2020, 15:48
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Watched him take off in his P51 Glamorous Glennis and do some rolls . I went out to the windsock to listen to the music of a Merlin engine at take off power . Never got the chance to thank him for his service . I was told I would be fired if I climbed into the plane when it was in the paint shop of Macon Air 1990 . Nobody guarding it during lunch break , so anyone of the flight instructors might have climbed into that tiny fighting space . I would never admit to climbing in like a ten year old boy to that tiny cramped space . The P51 was having the D-day stripes repainted for the new owner from Atlanta. The Respect and Love the entire company had for that Man was Awesome . They would have followed him through the gates of Hell .
The new owner was asked if he felt comfortable letting someone else fly his very expensive plane . The owner replied if Chuck Yeager was not allowed to fly it , who could ? .
Pure Respect .
Thank you for your service
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 16:19
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RIP Chuck Yeager = Legend
Read his autobiography , written a few years ago ...brilliant
Watch ' The Right Stuff ' again , fabulous
Thanks CY for the incredible memories ..
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 16:44
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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.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 17:31
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I attended a talk given by General Yeager at the National Air and Space Museum in the early 1990's. The presentation lasted a little longer than an hour and when it ended the General was given a protracted and well-deserved standing ovation.

The one and only Chuck Yeager stuck around to converse with anyone who cared to remain; many, including me, had brought a copy of his autobiography to receive its author's signature. When my turn arrived, I gave the General a firm handshake which he returned as he stared at me through squinting turquoise eyes. I could see vague hints of the surgeries he'd undergone when half of his face was burned severely by the melted metal lava of the rocket of his ejection seat as he plummeted nearly ten miles; I could see the deep wrinkles carved into that face, written there as he sighted his single-shot .22 rifle on a rabbit in the "holler" depending on "piped-in" sunlight, or when he had Migs, or Messerschmitts, or sound barriers to conquer with unequaled precision.

Then my turn was done and the next lucky attendee got to create his own indelible memory. I exited the museum through the main lobby. At floor level, I walked past the Apollo Command Module, Columbia. Above me hung The Spirit of St. Louis, The Wright Flyer, an X-15, and the Bell X-1, a .45 bullet fuselage with stub-wings named Glamorous Glennis. These craft were not replicas - they were the genuine article.

I spent a moment looking up, trying to grasp the depth of courage it took to pilot these amazing craft, and to treasure the remembrance of the strong handshake and broad smile given to me by one of them: a true hero, whose commitment to success came from the very heavenly skies toward which he so frequently turned his gaze.

- Ed

Last edited by cavuman1; 14th Dec 2020 at 21:46. Reason: wording
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 19:27
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I had the privilege of being in the same room(well, marquee really) at the Wright Brothers 100th anniversary at Kittyhawk in Dec 2003, along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Three legends at once.

Two now gone. RIP Neil and Chuck.

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Old 8th Dec 2020, 19:29
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An interesting article that debunks the idea that North American test pilot George Welch pipped Yeager to Mach 1 although probably not by much:


An amazing era of aviation which General Yeager was fortunate to survive. I loved ‘The Right Stuff’ and his autobiography, a sad day.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 19:42
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For those wondering, the other guy in the photo is Joseph Kittinger. Kittinger held the world record for the highest parachute jump, made in August 1960, when he jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 102,800 ft, free-falling to 17,500 ft in a world record time of 4 minutes 36 seconds! The altitude record stood for 52 years, when Felix Baumgartner jumped from 127, 852 ft in 2012.
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Old 8th Dec 2020, 19:50
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Joseph Kittinger
I believe he was still flying joyriders in something interesting from Lakeland until fairly recently.
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