There are a few firsts left in this world, and an Air Force legend was able to lay claim to two of them. In 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager in an X-1 rocket plane named after his first wife.
Legendary Flight For A Legendary Man
Yeager was a legendary World War II pilot who was picked to pilot the X-1 named the "Glamorous Glennis." The mission was to test out supersonic flight.
Multiple tests were run before the X-1 was carried to 25,000 feet by a B-29 Superfortress. The plane then took off from the bomb bay.
Yeager was able to fly up to 43,000 feet and accelerate to Mach 1 and then some. As a result, he earned himself the title of the first man to break the speed of sound.
Not Ideal Conditions
One little-known fact is that Yeager was able to accomplish this mission with broken ribs. He had spent the day riding horses, and it did not end very well.
“My horse and I pulled about 3 g’s trying to avoid the fence. Well…. my horse pulled 3, I flew over the fence and cracked a couple of ribs."Chuck Yeager
However, he did not let some broken ribs slow him down, and he was not about to let himself get grounded. So he headed over to a local vet to get checked out. The vet told him not to do anything too strenuous. So, of course, he went out and did the exact opposite.
Finding A Way
Yeager did not have the mobility to close the X-1's door with his broken ribs. So, he had a friend fashion him a solution. Jack Ridley, an aeronautical engineer, cut the end off of a broomstick and made a lever so Yeager could shut the door.
Yeager tested it on the ground, and it worked. So he decided it would work for the flight too. He went on to break Mach 2, once again as the first man to do so.
However, his daring feats were not immediately known to the public. It remained classified until June of 1948. Yeager eventually retired as a brigadier general. He died on December 7, 2020. Yeager was 97.