Chuck Yeager

by Rahul from San Diego

“You don't concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.”- Chuck Yeager

Many kinds of heroes exist. Some heroes use mental intimidation and strong words like Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Others are just normal people that do amazing things, like a Boy Scout saving someone by performing CPR. Chuck Yeager portrays heroic characteristics through his bravery, courage, and determination. People view him as admirable or infamous depending on what side of war one was on, Hitler’s, or the Allied forces. To numerous Germans, he was a major enemy, destroying many of their planes, and evading death numerous times. However, to Americans, he is an amazing hero that has taken many risks for his country. Born in Myra, West Virginia on February 13th, 1923, he always had a bond with the outdoors. When he was only 18 years of age, he joined the air force and received his main training in California and Arizona. Yeager shined when he started doing combat missions in England, France, and Spain. Evidently, Yeager was an exceptional pilot from the beginning-- both mentally and physically. After flying combat missions for a few years, Yeager started to work as a maintenance officer in the Flight Test Division in Wright Field, Ohio. Because Of Yeager’s exceptional performance while flying and maintaining the airplanes there, he eventually became a test pilot himself. On October 14, 1947 Yeager became the first man to break mach speed. Heroes inspire men to break all barriers, and Chuck Yeager inspires us to achieve the impossible through his amazing courage, determination, and service to his country.

Chuck Yeager’s determination allowed him to break the barriers of men. There are many occurrences in which Yeager’s perseverance truly shine. “Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, he broke two ribs while riding a horse. He was so afraid of being removed from the mission that he went to a veterinarian in a nearby town for treatment and told only his wife, as well as friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley, about it. On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the airplane's hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device, using the end of a broom handle as an extra lever, to allow Yeager to seal the hatch of the airplane” (Janos). Yeager never gave up his mission. Even in a state of extreme physical pain, and no knowledge of what mach 1 speeds would do to his ribs, Yeager pushed ahead, he never took no for an answer. Even after attaining mach 1, he decided to push the envelope further. His next speed was over double mach 1. “The Ridley/Yeager USAF team achieved Mach 2.44 on December 12, 1953. Shortly after reaching Mach 2.44, he experienced a loss of aerodynamic control due to inertial coupling at approximately 80,000 ft (24,000 m)., Yeager lost control of the X-1A. With the aircraft out of control, simultaneously rolling, pitching and yawing out of the sky, Yeager dropped 51,000 feet (16,000 m) in 51 seconds until regaining control of the aircraft at approximately 29,000 feet (8,800 m). He was able to land the aircraft without further incident” (White). Again, despite the dangers of his endeavors, Yeager didn’t look back. His plane plummeted so fast that he lost control, but Yeager’s piloting ability was unmatched. His determination to complete the mission allowed him to remain calm and eventually manage to regain control where 99% of pilots couldn’t.

Yeager and his mach 1 plane (
Yeager and his mach 1 plane (

Yeager possessed additional heroic qualities such as courage and bravery, as Samuel Johnson once said: “Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other” (Johnson). “In 1953 North Korean pilot, Lieutenant No Kum-Sok, defected with his shiny new Soviet built MiG-15, and for doing so received $100,000. This aircraft was test-flown by renowned test pilot Chuck Yeager and began a trend that was to last nearly forty years. The American flyers of these aircraft had to contend with un-maintainable and mysterious planes as they had no spare parts or technical manuals available. Ground crews had to resort to reverse engineering aircraft components and manufacturing them from raw materials just to keep them in the air. US pilots found out firsthand how dangerous these aircraft were and two lost their lives in catastrophic crashes” (Eger). Possessing little knowledge about how the aircraft operates, and whether its parts were functioning, Chuck took a huge risk, that required a lot of bravery. But in the end his testing of the MiG paid off. Due to the comprehensive testing Yeager performed, the United States gained a plethora of information about this plane, and used it in later battles. By the end of his career, Yeager had an unmatched record. He had flown over one thousand hours during his official missions. During his service, he shot down over 11 enemy planes. He was also shot down once, but he managed to escape back to the United States. “Yeager shot down five enemy planes in a single day and became an "ace-in-a-day." Later, he even downed a German Messerschmitt Me-262 jet while flying his propeller-driven P-51 Mustang. Throughout his 64 World War II missions, Yeager scored a total of 11-1/2 victories” (Onks). Although at any time, Yeager could’ve been shot down and killed, his bravery kept him in the fight. He could have easily quit after his 10th, 30th, or even 5th mission.

Chuck with all his metals (
Chuck with all his metals (

Chuck Yeager still has a lasting impact today: the inspiration that he has given us. Yeager shows Americans what it is truly like to serve their country. “Yeager was promoted to brigadier general in 1969, by which time he had flown more than one hundred missions in Southeast Asia in B-57 tactical bombers. Yeager had become the most famous pilot in the United States, and the Air Force called upon him increasingly for its public relations and recruiting efforts. He served in a variety of Air Force positions until his retirement in 1975. He is the recipient of numerous military awards and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.” (Michael Martin). On top of this, Yeager gave the US a significant amount of knowledge about enemy planes, as well as planes that have the ability to overcome mach speeds. This was a perilous endeavor, but it has helped the US become a leader in aviation, instead of being behind. Chuck Yeager inspires many people with his amazing heroic qualities, perseverance and courage, and his outstanding service for our country. Chuck Yeager is the spark that creates the fire to achieve.

Page created on 2/12/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 2/12/2010 12:00:00 AM

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