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Chuck Yeager, 'Right Stuff' test pilot who broke sound barrier, dead at 97

13 Comments
By Bill Trott

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Insane and fearless feats. Dropped out of a bomb bay of a B29 in a forties rocket plane is badass.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

He was a bit of a hero of mine when I was a kid. Glad that he made it to 97.

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A great pilot and true pioneer. RIP.

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Not insane at all. 

With all due respect there is no calculated risk in blasting into the unknown in a "plane" that was basically a rocket dropped from a bomber in 1947.

All the test pilots of the early jet age took insane risks. It went with the job. And so many lost their lives.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An American legend.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

MadvertsToday  03:06 pm JST

Insane and fearless feats. Dropped out of a bomb bay of a B29 in a forties rocket plane is badass.

Not insane at all. Research of the unknown and challenging it often involves risks......calculated risks. At the time, breaking the sound barrier was an unknown territory. Who knows how aircraft controls would respond beyond Mach 1. That's what the X-1 was designed to do. Test pilots understand the risks involved and were willing to accept them.

It's kind of sad that those of the "Greatest Generation" are dwindling in numbers. They faced life as they met it and overcome any and all challenges and obstacles on their own terms.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The real Top Gun.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

True American hero and certified badass. He was also a great face for our country during the Cold War in the 80s.

For you youngsters, check out a movie called "The Right Stuff." It's a dramatization (which is a polite way to say largely inaccurate) portrayal of the first astronauts. Yeager was never chosen but is a big part of the movie, especially the X-1 scene and the NF-104A scene.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rip Chuck. You were an innovator and I have 2 sons and a daughter in law in aviation and you have been an inspiration to all of us. God bess and thank you for your contribution to aviation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A True American Hero

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For you youngsters, check out a movie called "The Right Stuff." It's a dramatization (which is a polite way to say largely inaccurate) portrayal of the first astronauts. Yeager was never chosen but is a big part of the movie, especially the X-1 scene and the NF-104A scene.

Unlike the astronauts, Chuck Yeager didn't attend much less graduate from college. He went from high school to an enlisted maintainer in the Army Air Corps. Lacking college he was not qualified for flight training but with the US entry into WWII that changed. He went on to fly P-51s in Europe, was shot down once, evaded capture and flew combat again, which required a direct appeal to and intervention from General Eisenhower. Despite his superb airmanship and combat victories, including shooting down five German aircraft in a single sortie ("Ace in a day") his lack of a college degree kept him out of the astronaut program. Some of us think it was because his big clanking manhood was too large and heavy for the delicate weight and balance of a spacecraft!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All the test pilots of the early jet age took insane risks. It went with the job. And so many lost their lives.

Chuck Yeager was special. He was active testing aircraft into his 70s.

Aircraft were a bit simpler in the X-1 days and there was less of a safety first consciousness back then.  You also have to remember these test pilots had all just survived WWII. War hardens one to danger. Today a maintenance check pilot, the person who takes a freshly overhauled aircraft up and performs all of the required checks to ensure it is safe to fly, has to be fully qualified on that same type of aircraft. Often they will be graduates of Test Pilot School. Back in the 1940s a maintenance check pilot would be given the flight manual of an unfamiliar airplane the night before and told to study up then the next day do a post maintenance check flight on something they maybe never flew before. Meditate on that. This pilot would certify an aircraft they never flew before coming out of overhaul as being safe to fly. They might fly a different airplane every day and have been qualified on none of them. "You're a pilot, you can fly anything" "Right?" DC-3 one day. F8F Bearcat the next.  Safe to fly?  Are you sure? They also lost more aircraft to non-combat mishaps than they lost in combat. A lot more. In some years of WWII the US military lost more aircraft to non combat mishaps than they have airplanes today. Still, if you think about the pilots testing out new prototype aircraft they are taking their chances until they have some experience with it. Imagine the first time the V-22 was flown? Or Sikorsky's new S-97 Raider after having rotor system failures on the test stand? It is a testament to their professionalism that the F-35 fleet had no mishaps during development and the fleet went over 100,000 total flight hours before the first mishap happened. The demise of Space Ship 2 over the California desert shows that test flying new air/spacecraft can be very unforgiving of mistakes and the people doing it are taking big risks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

97 yrs is a great innings!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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