the YF-100, he was also one of the first to conduct flights with XF-104 and many other aircraft.
From September 27 to October 5, 1953, he was also member of team evaluating captured
MiG-15 at Kadena AB, Okinawa. He was always the first pick for engineers and designers
when they needed proper pilot´s report. Yeager was precise and able to notice important
aspects of flight. After those seven „golden years“ as he recalled this era, he returned to
the duty of military pilot and moved to Europe as commanding officer of the 417th Fighter
Bomber Squadron, based at Hahn, West Germany. The unit was flying F-86H Sabres. Yeager
returned to USA in 1957 and took over the 1st Fighter Day Squadron at George AFB. The unit
was considered “elite” within Tactical Air Command because of its supersonic F-100s.
Flying P-51D-15NA Glamorous Glen III, Yeager managed to shoot down five enemies
in one day and also was victorious in combat with Me 262.
There were 12,5 aerial victories on Chuck´s account when his tour ended after 64 missions
and 270 flight hours flown. He was heading back home where he arrived in January 1945.
Chasing a demon
After his return Yeager married Glennis and served as the flight instructor at Perrin Field,
TX for some time. But there was a rule the shot down and returning pilot was given the right to
serve at the base of his choose. As the young couple awaited their first child to be born, they
decided to move closer to home and the Wright Field AFB was their choice. It was the R&D
centre of US Air Force and Chuck could not have better hand regarding his future… He was
tasked with checking out all the aircraft coming out from the maintenance, so he was flying
almost every fighter on the flight line. He demonstrated such exceptional skills that he was
selected to fly in air shows as display pilot. He was also noticed by Colonel Albert Boyle, who
As a Full Colonel Chuck returned to the Edwards AFB in 1961 as the deputy director of
flight test. The following year he took over as commander of the new USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS) designed to prepare military test pilots for space flights. He became
a mentor of the future astronauts, although he was never given a chance to join the space
programme. The reason was lack of academy degree, but he did not regret that too much,
because the idea of flying with something he could not control was odd to him. The NF-104
was something different for him. This aircraft equipped with additional rocket boosters was
intended to enable future astronauts to get as close to the space as possible and give them the
experience of zero gravity when flying on ballistic arch. Yeager flew this beast for first time
without problem and managed to reach 108,000 feet (33 000 m). During the second flight the
aircraft pitched up and fell to the flat spin at 104,000 feet. Yeager struggled to recover the
airplane and finally gave up and ejected. He was seriously injured because of his pressurized
suit malfunction. The injury kept him in hospital for six weeks.
The next stop for Colonel Yeager was 405th Fighter Wing based in Philippines. He commanded five squadrons there. Two tactical bomber squadrons flying B-57s in South Vietnam,
a squadron of F-100 fighter-bombers based in Taiwan, a pair of F-102 air defence squadrons at Da Nang and detached units located at Udorn and Bangkok, Thailand. Chuck was
visiting the squadrons on regular basis and flew with them operationally. With B-57 he added
127 flights to his combat record from WWII. After stint at the Kunsan AB, South Korea, he
returned home and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. His next stop was Europe
again, where he returned to take over the 7th Air Force commander´ duties in July 1969. Two
years later he was named U.S. Defense Representative in Pakistan. Another two years later, in
1973, he returned home to become USAF Director of Aerospace Safety at Norton AFB, CA.
The end of his service was closer and closer and on February 1975 he made his last military
flight in F-4C Phantom II. When he climbed out of the cockpit that day, he had accumulated a
total of 10,131.6 hours in some 361 (!) different types of military aircraft. Three days later he
completed his service during ceremonies at Norton AFB.
Rest without a rest
After the release of The Right Stuff book of Tom Wolf, Chuck Yeager became international
celebrity and the movie of the same name further reinforced that status. Chuck even played
a small act in the movie, portraying the bartender in Pancho´s Happy Bottom Riding Club. The
demand for public appearances, lectures and interviews was endless. Also, his advice has been
much sought after by the government, NASA, or the aerospace industry on a wide variety of
issues. He was also part of the team investigating the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. During
the time after the active service he received numerous awards, spent time fishing and, of course, kept flying. He settled several records and being a well-known celebrity, he also agreed to
do a promotional activity, like the one for Chevrolet Corvette. He was also cooperating with PC
games developers, two of the games bearing his name (Chuck Yeager Advanced Flight Trainer
and Chuck Yeager´s Air Combat). He made quite a fortune by that (estimated asset of 1,5
million dollars), but, on the other side, the money caused problems in relationship with his four
children. Chuck Yeager gave up flying in 1997 at the age of 74 but was fit enough to enjoy
a ride in F-15D in 2012 as a celebration of 65th anniversary of his record flight.
The sound barrier breaker, double fighter ace and well-respected leader died on December 8, 2020, but the name Charles Yeager will stay in aviation history forever.
Chuck Yeager in cockpit of NF-104.
photo: Master Sergeant Jason W. Edwards, US Air Force
decided to give him a chance in his „best of the best“ group of military pilots of Flight Test Division. As Chuck was only high school graduate, he found quite a challenge to talk to advanced
academics but, as he remembered later: „Because of my flying ability they took mercy on my
academics.” In June 1947 Colonel Boyd chose Yeager as the man to break the sound barrier
in rocket powered Bell X-1. The reason Yeager was chosen was because Boyd considered him
the best “instinctive” pilot he had ever seen, and he also knew Chuck had extraordinary skill to
stay calm in stressful situations.
Yeager made three glides with XS-1 at Muroc AFB prior to conducting first powered flight on
August 29. During his eighth flight on October 10, he lost pitch control, as a shock wave formed
along the hinge line of the X-1 elevator at speed of Mach 0.997. The problem was solved by
modification allowing the small changes in angle of incidence of horizontal stabilizer. The modification worked and then the October 14 came! The X-1 with Chuck Yeager in cockpit released
of B-29 and steadily accelerated up to the Mach 1,06. „The invisible demon“ was broken!
Chuck Yeager became a star, the fastest man on the planet and Collier Trophy holder. There
is also the story of two ribs broken just two days prior to the flight as Chuck fell from horse, and
about the broom shaft to be used as a help for him to close the X-1 door, as the pain prevented
Chuck from doing so normally. But that is all well-known story thanks to The Right Stuff movie…
Chuck Yeager proceed as the test pilot flying X-1A, X-3, X-4, and X-5 at Muroc. He moved
to the Edwards AFB later, continuing with aircraft testing. He was one of two pilots evaluating
INFO Eduard - January 2021
Chuck Yeager flew F-15D as part of the celebrations of his sound breaking flight´s
65th anniversary. He was 89 then.