CHARLES „CHUCK“ YEAGER
* 13. 2. 1923
† 8. 12. 2020
The breakage of sound barrier is one of the prominent milestones in aviation development. The “invisible devil” preventing
the aircraft from reaching higher speeds, was a challenge for
both engineers and pilots. Charles “Chuck” Yeager is famous
to the world as the first supersonic man, but there is much
more behind his lifework.
On October 14, 1947 Chuck Yeager officially became the fastest man on the planet. Flying
the experimental Bell X-1 he reached speed of Mach 1,06 and started the supersonic era in
aviation. The nose of the bullet-like aircraft bore the Glamorous Glennis inscription as a tribute
to his beloved wife. Similarly named were all his wartime P-51s as well.
He met his long-life love when as a young pilot moved together with his squadron to the new
base in Oroville, CA. Chuck was tasked with organizing a dancing evening for the pilots and
so he attended local USO office for some help. And there they met. „She was pretty as movie
star and was also making more money than I was,“ recalled Chuck later. During the event they
organised together Chuck also danced with her and, as i turned out, the liking was mutual.
„I barely understood every third word he spoke, but I sensed that he was a very strong and
determined person. The kind of man that I hoped to marry one day.” They married shortly
after Chuck had returned from Europe at the start of 1945 and the couple stayed together for
45 years until Glennis died due to the cancer.
Author: Richard Plos
From sickness to mastery
It is quite interesting the man, who became one of the most famous pilots in the world with
more than 10,000 flying hours logged had a nausea problem at the start of his career.
He learned it while serving as crew chief of an AT-11. Yeager took the backseat as the pilot
practiced landings, and shortly discovered the misery of motion sickness. He was young aircraft
mechanic but looked for something more enjoyable and thanks to the Flying Sergeant programme he got the chance, as the age limit was lowered from 20 to 18 years for pilot training
application. He was still sick during first flights but overcome that weakness thanks to excellent
physical shape and received the pilot badge in March, 1943. During advanced and combat
training he flew the P-39 Airacobra with 363rd Fighter Squadron of 357th Fighter Group
and apart of many struggling young pilots mastered the tricky aircraft. „He was the best of us
and became an benchmark for any newbie in the squadron,“ recalled one of colleagues later.
The ace in one day
Charles Yeager with Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, the first aircraft breaking
sound barrier in horizontal manned flight.
The 357th Fighting Group moved to England just before Christmas 1943 aboard Queen
Elisabeth ship to become part of 8th Air Force. Receiving P-51 Mustang, Yeager did not hesitate to put the Glamorous Glen on its nose as the tribute to his than fiancée. He started combat
flying in February, 1944 and achieved first victory on March 4 during the Berlin bombing ride
escort. His eighth mission was to be his last for a long time, as he was shot down during combat
with three Fw 190s. Yeager bailed out and hid himself in woods to avoid being captured.
A French woodcutter found him and helped him to contact the French resistance movement.
With their help Yeager reached Spanish borders on March 30 with two fellow American aviators, although they were chased by German soldiers searching for them on ground and from
air using Fi 156 Storch. It was not first time for Yeager to use parachute. During the training
flight his P-39 caught fire and he had to bail out, suffering a back injury, which kept him in
hospital for some time. Once back in England Yeager tried hard to overcome the rule, which
prevented any shot down returnee to fly over the enemy territory again. There was a danger one could reveal information of the French resistance if shot down again. Finally, Yeager
succeeded thanks to understanding of General Eisenhower. Chuck repaid the mighty Allied
Forces commander his faith abundantly. He got P-51C which he named Glamorous Glen II, but
soon received new P-51D Glamorous Glen III. He scored five kills in one day on October 12,
1944 (all victims were Bf 109) and became an ace in one day hero. He nearly repeated the
achievement on November 27, shooting down four Fw 109s. But prior to that, he encountered
Me 262 during the escort of B-24. German jets of Komando Nowotny unit stroke at Mustangs
of 357th FS after they had leaved the bombers in safe zone. One of the Me 262s fired at
Yeager but missed and Chuck was given a chance to bounce back after evasive manoeuvre
in steep climb. He hit the jet several times, but it escaped in clouds. Yeager found himself separated from the group, so headed back and spotted the Me 262 approaching the air base
at Achmer. He charged at the German and shot him down despite fierce flak defensive firing.
INFO Eduard - January 2021