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Chuck Yeager

pilot test sound speed

Yeager, Chuck (Charles Elwood Yeager; 1923– ), U.S. fighter pilot in World War II, test pilot, first person to fly faster than the speed of sound (Oct. 14, 1947). Yeager set a second record by flying 2 1/2 times the speed of sound, or 1,650 mph (2,655 kmph) on Dec. 12, 1953. He retired from the military as a brigadier general (1975), later serving on the presidential commission investigating the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. He told his life story in Yeager (1985), coauthored by Leo Janos, and his exploits as a test pilot are celebrated in Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff (1979).

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