Celebrating Chuck Yeager's 'right stuff' at 65 (pictures)
On October 14, 1947, the Bell X-1 piloted by U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. The X-1 reached a speed of 700 miles per hour, Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 13,000 meters (43,000 feet). Yeager named the airplane "Glamorous Glennis" in tribute to his wife.
The history of X planes begins with the X-1. It wasn't just the first in the lineage--it was the first aircraft ever to break the sound barrier. That flight occurred on October 14, 1947, with Chuck Yeager in the cockpit. The photo here shows the Bell Aircraft X-1-1 in flight, along with a snippet of the paper tape (which tracked the flight data) showing the jump to supersonic speed at Mach 1. The achievement was classified as top secret and the Air Force would not confirm the supersonic flight until March 1948.
Another view of the Bell X-1 in flight.
Charles E. Yeager, shown standing next to the Air Force's Bell-built X-1 supersonic research aircraft.
Capt. Charles E. Yeager (shown standing in front of the Air Force's Bell-built X-1A supersonic research aircraft.
The Bell X-1A in flight.
Capt. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager transfers from a B-29 to the Bell X-1A.
A Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1 series aircraft cockpit instruments display.
Jackie Cochran and Chuck Yeager being presented with the Harmon International Trophies by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1-2 with the Boeing B-29 launch ship behind.
Chuck Yeager in the cockpit of an NF-104, December 4, 1963.
The actual X-1
This is the actual Bell X-1 that Chuck Yeager used to break the sound barrier for the first time in 1947.
Honoring Yeager's achievement, a statue of him stands in a small park at Edwards Air Force Base. The engraving reads, "Sound Barrier Cracked. On October 14, 1947, 42,000 feet above this monument, Captain Chuck Yeager, USAF, piloting a Bell X S-1 rocket airplane named 'Glamorous Glennis,' became the first person to exceed Mach 1. With this flight, the era of supersonic aviation was born."