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Yeager, Chuck (Charles Elwood Yeager) (yāˈgər), 1923–2020, American aviator, b. Myra, W.Va. An ace fighter pilot during World War II, he was a military test pilot during the early postwar years. Among other records, he was the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound (1947) and set a world speed record of 1,650 mph (1953). His obvious bravery, technical skill, and unaffected manner made him the quintessential American hero. He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia, and South Korea, was commandant of the Air Force's Aerospace Research Pilot School, flew combat missions during the Vietnam War, and was vice commander of the 17th Air Force. He retired in 1975 as a brigadier general, but continued to fly for many years, setting records in light aircraft, and served on the commission that investigated the space shuttle Challenger disaster.
See his autobiography, Yeager (with Leo Janos, 1985).
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Yeager, (Charles Elwood) Chuck(1923– ) aviator, test pilot; born in Myra, W.Va. A fighter pilot ace during World War II, he became the first to break the sound barrier, when he flew the Bell X-1 rocket 670 mph in level flight (October 14, 1947). He held various air force command assignments between 1954–62. He was vice-commander of the Ramstein, Germany, Air Base (1968–69), U.S. defense representative to Pakistan (1971–73), and director of aerospace safety at Norton Air Force Base in California (1973–75). His autobiography, Press On, was published in 1985. He appears as the main character in Tom Wolfe's book, The Right Stuff, and as the epitome of that virtue he appeared in numerous commercial endorsements.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.