American military and aviation hero Chuck Yeager died today at age 97, just over 73 years after his initial supersonic flight.
It was Oct. 14, 1947, when 24-year-old U.S. Air Force officer Yeager became the first human in history to exceed the speed of sound and survive.
Yeager flew a legendary Bell X-1 rocket plane that he named the “Glamourous Glennis,” after his wife, at Mach 1, over 768 mph.
The U.S. Government kept his accomplishments quiet until the following year. When the news finally broke, Yeager became an international celebrity.
Before Yeager’s busting through the sound barrier, it was commonly thought the task was impossible. World War II pilots had reported their aircrafts coming apart when they came close to that speed.
Yeager proved his instinct to remain calm during the war and this led him to prove that with proper jet design the feat could be obtained.
In 1963, Yeager flew a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter up to 104,000 feet, but lost control. When the aircraft began gyrating downward, he was able to eject.
He was struck in the face by his rocket seat. His helmet visor cracked, igniting pure oxygen inside, severely burning his face and neck. He endured multiple skin grafts to his wounds.
Yeager continued to set flight records into the 1990s.