14 Oct 2017

70 years ago: Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier

Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier 70-years ago today, 14 October 2017. He made the historic flight on 14 October 1947 flying an X-1 at Mach 1.07 at an altitude of 45,000ft (13,700m).

Aged just 24-years old at the time the record was set, the American pilot served as a private and mechanic in the US Army Air Force before enlisting in pilot training. Upon graduating, he became a P-51 fighter pilot. 

After World War II he became a test pilot, testing many types of experimental aircraft. He later commanded fighter squadrons during the Vietnam War and was promoted to brigadier general. His service career lasted 34 years, from 1941-1975, and his flying career spanned 60 years.

Yeager broke the sound barrier in a Bell X-1, which he had named “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife. The flight took place above the Mojave Desert, California.

Highly decorated, Yeager was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1975 the US Congress awarded him a silver medal in recognition of the risks he took to break the sound barrier. President General Ford presented Yeager with the medal in a ceremony held at the White House on 8 December 1976.