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.
Updated:Caption:Charles CooperPhoto:NASA Photo / USAF photo by Lt. Robert A. Hoover
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."