Thursday, October 14, 2010

He Had the Right Stuff - 63 Years Ago

On this day in 1947, Chuck Yeager set one of the most tantalizing aviation records, becoming the first man to travel faster than sound. Yeager had the good sense to name his rocket-powered plane, the Bell X-1, after his wife, the "Glamorous Glennis". (Unfortunately her parents did not have the good sense to spell her name with a Y, but neither she nor her husband can be held responsible for that.)

Two days before the flight, Yeager broke two ribs while riding horseback. Fearful of being pulled from the mission, he told only his wife and another pilot, Jack Riley. Riley cut a broom handle for Yeager to use to close the plane's hatch, since raising his arm that high over his head resulted in excruciating pain. For his achievement, Yeager won the Mackay, Collier and Harmon Trophies. Breaking the sound barrier on 14 October 1947 was but one episode in Yeager's long and distinguished career.

On a personal note, my father had been born just days before. I like to think of Yeager's flight as a kind of good omen, like being born under a lucky star.

The Right Stuff's depiction of Yeager's accomplishment can be seen below.

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