Chuck Yeager: The Man Who Broke The Sound Barrier

By Nancy Louis Stevenson

Walker and Company, New York, 1988

Book report and stamp artwork by Daniel

Charles E. Yeager was born on February 14, 1923 in Myra, West Virginia. He lived with his father, his mother, his older brother Roy, his younger sister Pansy Lee, and his younger brother Hal, who was 10 years younger than Chuck. His younger sister, Doris Ann, died during infancy. When he was about two years old he moved to Hamlin West Virginia. Hamlin was a small town with a population of about 500, but compared to Myra, Hamlin was a real city to a kid like Chuck. Times were hard for the Yeagers, as it was for many people. A cantaloupe or a watermelon was considered a real treat. Chuck went to elementary school. He found out that he took a liking to geometry, math, and typing. History and english caused him to struggle. When it came time to choose books, Chuck chose an adventure book or nature book. One nature book he chose was called Crooked Bill, the Life of a Quail. Chuck was fifteen years old when he saw an airplane for the first time. When a flying officer came to Hamlin to look for pilots, Chuck had just finished high school. To enlist you had to have either a college degree, or be a minimum age of twenty-one. Chuck was eighteen and had just finished high school but, he could fit into another category. There was a "flying sergeant" program. It required only a high school degree, which Chuck had. So in September, 1941, a few months before the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Chuck signed up in the "flying sergeant" program. Chuck's first flight did not go well. He got motion sickness, and threw up all over the back seat. But, after that he was to active to be sick. On his ninth combat mission, Chuck shot down two fighters, and then HE was shot down. Landing in enemy territory, Chuck was found by a french couple, and was taken to their farmhouse. After that he made it back to friendly lines, and continued active duty. From then to 1945, Chuck racked up twelve more kills. He received the Silver Star for shooting down five Messersmits, and the Silver Star Cluster for shooting down four Focke-Wulfs in one mission. When the war was over, Chuck was a captain, who had shot down fourteen planes, and was a home town hero. Chuck and his bride, Glennis, went to Muroc airfield. Glennis, who was expecting a child, moved to Ohio and Chuck stayed at Muroc. When the project to send a man past Mach 1, came to Muroc, Chuck was selected to be the pilot, and he accepted. The aircraft to take Chuck up would be the B-29 Super Fortress. On the test day the sky was clear. The X-1 was attached to the Super fortress' bomb bay by two clamps. The take-off was perfect. When they reached 25,000 feet the B-29 entered a one thousand foot dive. During that time Chuck had to climb into the X-1's cockpit. Chuck had broken two ribs in a horse riding accident two days earlier. He didn't tell anyone because the mission would be postponed. Chuck had trouble getting into the cockpit. After he got in, he was released, and he fired the rockets. Then, the buffeting began. After the buffeting stopped, he looked at the speedometer. He had reached Mach 1.04! When he landed, he was greeted by the ground crew. Chuck later broke Mach 2.5. Then came the Korean War. Chuck was a Lieutenant Colonel. Then came the Vietnam WarHe became a Brigadier General! He is still alive.

Chuck yeager broke the sound barrier and all of science benefited from it. Nowadays we have planes that fly at Mach 3.

This stamp commemorates Chuck Yeager. He is seen firing the fourth rocket in the stamp. Chuck also broke Mach 2.5.

Daniel [Recorded comments - 32K]

[Return to top of report]

[Return to Book Report Index]