CHARLESTON. WV (WOWK) — Chuck Yeager, the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound, died Monday at the age of 97.
“I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly,” said Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager (Ret.), in an interview from years ago.
Yeager flew combat missions in both World War Two and Vietnam and trained 26 of the nation’s first astronauts. He was born and raised in Lincoln County, West Virginia. Today he is being fondly remembered.
“When he got shot down and the Germans were looking for him, he was hiding in the woods. He says, ‘There’s no Nazi going to find a good old mountain boy from West Virginia, I can assure you.’ And you know, he was rescued by the French underground,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.
“He was part of the Greatest Generation that stepped up when the world, not just the country, but the world needed them,” said Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer, West Virginia National Guard.
65 years after breaking the sound barrier as a pilot, Yeager flew in an F-15 as a passenger and broke the sound barrier again. His life and career were chronicled in the best-selling book and movie, “The Right Stuff,” about the early days of the space program. Yeager was also known for flamboyant stunts, like flying underneath this Kanawha River Bridge.
“I remember the stories of him flying under the South Side Bridge at 400 miles per hour, and all of the uproar it caused,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.
Many things across the state are named after him, including the Chuck Yeager Bridge, and Yeager Airport, the state’s largest.
“Each day thousands of cars drive by this sign entering Lincoln County, with children undoubtedly asking their parents, ‘Who’s Chuck Yeager?’ The answer is he’s a West Virginia legend and an American hero,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.