Chuck Yeager : biography
Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager ( born February 13, 1923) is a retired brigadier general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. In 1947, he became the first pilot to travel faster than sound.
Yeager’s career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a North American P-51 Mustang fighter pilot.
After the war, Yeager became a test pilot of many types of aircraft including experimental rocket-powered aircraft. As the first human to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, he flew the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). Although Scott Crossfield was the first to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter, set a new record of Mach 2.44.Yeager and Janos 1985, p. 252.
Yeager later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager’s flying career spans more than 60 years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, including the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
Yeager’s popularity soared in the 1980s, when he was prominently featured in Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff and in its 1983 movie adaptation, in which he was portrayed by Sam Shepard.
Yeager, and his wife Glennis, moved to Grass Valley, California after his retirement from the Air Force in 1975. The couple prospered because of Yeager’s best-selling autobiography, speaking engagements and commercial ventures.Moller, Dave. The Union (Nevada County, California), February 19, 2004. Retrieved: September 26, 2011. Glennis Yeager died of ovarian cancer in 1990. They had four children.Tresniowski, Alex. People, March 8, 2004. Retrieved: September 26, 2011.
In 2000, Yeager met actress Victoria Scott D’Angelo on a hiking trail in Nevada County and started dating shortly thereafter. The pair married in August 2003. Subsequent to the commencement of their relationship, a bitter dispute arose between Yeager, his children and D’Angelo. The children contended that the much younger D’Angelo had married him for his fortune, which Yeager and D’Angelo denied. Litigation ensued, in which his children accused D’Angelo of "undue influence" on Yeager, and Yeager accused his children of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars from his pension fund.Hubler, Shawn. Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2004. Retrieved: September 26, 2011. The New York Times, June 7, 2006. In August 2008, the California Court of Appeal ruled for Yeager, finding that his daughter Susan had breached her duty as trustee. MetNews, August 26, 2008. Retrieved: November 30, 2012., no. C052483 (Cal.App.3rd, Aug. 22, 2008).
Yeager, with his wife, currently lives in Penn Valley, California, the location of the General Chuck Yeager Foundation, which supports programs that "teach the ideals by which General Yeager has lived." Chuck Yeager Foundation via Engineer’s Council of San Fernando Valley, California. Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
Awards and honors
In December 1975, the U.S. Congress awarded Yeager a silver medal "equivalent to a noncombat Medal of Honor … for contributing immeasurably to aerospace science by risking his life in piloting the XS-1 research airplane faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947." President Gerald Ford presented the medal to Yeager in a ceremony at the White House on December 8, 1976."Public Law 94-179." United States Statutes. Retrieved: September 10, 2012.
Yeager, who never attended college and was often modest about his background, is considered by some to be one of the greatest pilots of all time. Despite his lack of higher education, he has been honored in his home state. Marshall University has named its highest academic scholarship, the Society of Yeager Scholars, in his honor. Yeager was also the chairman of Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagle Program since 1994, and has been named the program’s Chairman Emeritus.Ford, Harrison. "Freedom and Responsibility". Sport Aviation, September 2010.