Record setting test pilot – and certified American hero – Chuck Yeager is dead at the age of 97. General Yeager was the first pilot to break the sound barrier. His death was announced on his official Twitter account. His cause of death hasn't been released.
His wife Victoria said, "a legacy of strength, adventure and patriotism will be remembered forever." It was back on October 14th, 1947 that Yeager flew the Bell X-1 experimental jet past the speed of sound for the first time and later went on to break other speed records. He was also a decorated Air Force officer who served in World War Two.
Of course, his incredible achievement was visualized for modern audiences in the 1983 film, “The Right Stuff.” And that bears mentioning as his initial feat was kept secret for months – remember, this was before the dawn of media as we know it today. Newsreel footage later surfaced, but Yeager was a humble hero – and always made it clear that it wasn’t fame that drove him – it was the spirit of achievement. "I was at the right place at the right time,” he once said. “And duty enters into it. It's not, you know, you don't do it for the — to get your damn picture on the front page of the newspaper. You do it because it's duty. It's your job."
Aside from being one of the most decorated aviators in history - he served in three wars - he joined the service right out of high school and reportedly, his flying skills were noticed straight away. During World War II, he was with flying 60 missions - and even taking down five German planes in a single day. Once home, he continued to serve his country through the military and later, in his ongoing work to test new aircraft.
When Yeager made his initial historic success, he did it in the plane he named “Glamourous Glennis” after his then-wife, Glennis, who he’d often referred to as his good-luck charm. Mrs. Yeager died of ovarian cancer in 1990. He married Victoria Scott D'Angelo in 2003, much to the chagrin of his children, who accused her of taking advantage of him – as she was 35-years his junior. A court battle ensued and in 2008, a judge ruled in General Yeager's favor. He decided that Yeager's daughter Susan had overstepped her position as trustee when she removed hundreds of thousands of dollars from his accounts. No word on if those fences were ever mended.