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October 14, 1947 – Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier

A stretch from the automotive world, but quite amazing nonetheless, it was on this day in 1947 WWII combat pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager found himself in the hot seat after becoming a test pilot for Bell Aircraft Company following the end of the war. The experimental Bell X-1 rocket plane would soon propel Yeager into the record books.

The X-1, nicknamed Glamorous Glennis after Yeager’s wife, would be guided to 25,000 in by a B-29 aircraft over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. At that point the plane, with Yeager at the controls would fall through the bomb bay. After his exit, the X-1 shot up to at least 35,000 feet and exceeded 662 mph, two mph faster than the sound barrier at that altitude. Despite being the first to break the sound barrier at level flight (it had been done in a dive before), his need for speed had yet to be met. 1953 Yeager flew an X-1A at a speed of 1,650 miles per hour. He continued his Air Force career, retiring in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general. Watch a video of the sound barrier flight below.

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