Photo: US Navy
Most people know the intrepid, and let’s just say it totally ballsy, Chuck Yeager strapped himself into a plane with more engine than wings and successfully exceeded the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.What is less well known is that Yeager only got the chance to make the flight because Bell Aircraft’s test pilot refused the offer, without an accompanying $150,000.
Yaeger could have cared less about the money, and jumped at the flight aboard Bell’s X-1 that promised to hurl him through the air faster than any human ever before.
Yaeger lived for speed, whether planes, cars, or horses and two nights before the Bell flight he fell from his favourite mount and broke two ribs.
He was so concerned he’d be scratched from the flight that he went to a distant veterinarian for medical treatment and told only his wife and best friend what happened.
Broken ribs hurt, a lot, and Yaeger was in so much pain he couldn’t seal the X-1’s hatch without help from a broomstick his buddy had rigged up beforehand.
That round of discomfort must have paled to what all that G-Force did to him as the X-1 reached a top speed of Mach 1.07.
We ran these photos early last summer, but in honour of Yeager’s 65-year flight anniversary and, Felix Baumgartner, who will attempt to break Mach I without any aircraft at all today, we thought we’d run them again.
This F/A-18F Super Hornet flew over visitors aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and stunned everyone with a supersonic demo
You can see water vapor trailing from this F-18 as it passes above the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman
The sound barrier broken off the coast of Southern California by Capt. Scott Conn and Rear Adm. Robert Girrier
Another odd shape of vapor as this F-22 Raptor cuts through the sky and slips past the speed of sound
BONUS: The carrier USS Carl Vinson's flight deck is covered in fighter jets capable of mach-speed flight — and you can just see a Hornet breaking the sound barrier overhead
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.