CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)- It took a lot of skill, courage and guts to do what Brigadier General Chuck Yeager accomplished, and today, Oct. 14, 2022, marks 75 years since the West Virginia native changed the world.
The old newsreels from the 1940’s show a military test pilot breaking the sound barrier, by flying his aircraft at more than 700 miles per hour. On Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager accomplished the feat that had never been done before.
Chuck Yeager, was, of course, born and raised in Lincoln County West Virginia. He was a decorated fighter pilot in World War II and Vietnam, who later played a crucial role in the U.S. space program. That role was profiled in the famous book and movie, “The Right Stuff.”
“I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly it,” said Gen. Chuck Yeager, in TV interview many years later.
“Without Chuck Yeager’s accomplishment, there is no Mercury program. There is no Gemini program, no Apollo. No Space Shuttle. No Space Station. No Hubble Telescope. What Chuck Yeager did was to play an important role in transforming, not just the world, but the universe for humankind,” said Mike Plante, a West Virginia pilot.
In fact, 65 years after he first broke the sound barrier, Yeager rode in an F-16 as a passenger and broke the sound barrier again. Brigadier General Chuck Yeager died nearly two years ago at the age of 97. In many ways, Yeager never really retired. He was involved in training the first 26 U.S. astronauts, but he never got to go in space himself.