CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Festivities surrounding the late great Chuck Yeager’s famous flight that broke the sound barrier started Friday morning with the rededication of the Chuck Yeager Bridge in Kanawha County.
Saturday, Oct. 14, marks the 76th anniversary of this flight. Victoria Yeager, Brig. Gen. Yeager’s widow, said it’s one of two major advances in aviation.
“The first one was the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, and the second one was Captain Chuck Yeager risking his life to break the sound barrier,” she said. “Before that most people had died trying.”
Celebrations of the achievement started on Friday with the rededication ceremony of the Chuck Yeager Bridge at 12:30 p.m. You can see in the video player P-51s flying over the bridge in honor of Brig. Gen. Yeager.
Two years ago, a project to repaint the bridge yellow and blue was approved, and work began shortly afterward. Victoria Yeager said she couldn’t be happier with the progress they’ve made so far, and she can’t wait to celebrate the momentous day in West Virginia by honoring her late husband.
“It’s not only because of the things he’s done, and there are many many more than just the (Bell) X-1, but because of his character,” she said. “People are inspired by excellence to keep going even if there are personal barriers.”
Throughout the weekend, there will be several other events including a Gold Star Mothers Motorcycle Rally and Exhibit at the Capitol Complex starting at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13.
Then on Saturday, Oct. 14, celebrations will kick off at the Jackson County Airport with the Gen. Chuck Yeager Aviation Festival Day at 9 a.m. and a showing of the Chuck Yeager documentary “The Right Stuff” at South Charleston’s Marquee Theater at 7 p.m.
Victoria Yeager said in addition to other festivities there will be Young Eagle Flights for anyone between 8 and 17 years old. Fifty kids have already signed up and seven pilots have volunteered to assist.
She said the goal is to open up the possibilities of aviation to those in rural West Virginia while paying tribute to Gen. Chuck Yeager’s achievements in aviation and defying what many thought was impossible.
“Without that, we wouldn’t have air superiority, we wouldn’t be where we are today with our air superiority and our safety,” she said. “We wouldn’t have been able to get into space or have all the satellites or have our cellphones, or all sorts of things. So, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, was the genesis that gave the ability for all of that.”