Remembering Chuck Yeager, the world’s first supersonic pilot

Dec 8, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Decades before the famed Concorde made its first passenger flight, Chuck Yeager soared above Southern California’s Mojave Desert in a rocket-powered Bell X-1.

On Oct. 14, 1947, at the age of 24, Yeager became the first person in the world to fly beyond the speed of sound, paving the way for generations of pilots to achieve supersonic flight — for decades to come.

Captain Charles Yaeger with the Bell X-1. (Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images)

Sadly, this aviation legend’s journey has come to an end. As confirmed by his wife, Victoria Yeager, the former United States Air Force general died Monday, Dec. 7, in Los Angeles.

His nearly 100 years were remarkably well-lived, however.

While Yeager’s 1947 record may be his most celebrated achievement, he continued to make his mark throughout his more than 30 years in the U.S. military, where he served in World War II, the Vietnam War and the Cold War. According to an NPR report, Yeager managed to fly more than 360 aircraft types during that time.

General Chuck Yeager in 1986 at Edwards Air Force Base. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

Yeager’s fame continued even after his Air Force retirement in 1975, with a cameo in “The Right Stuff,” a film that detailed elements of his career, and those of other military test pilots.

Yeager’s high-speed adventures weren’t limited to the cockpit. He went on to serve as a spokesperson for a variety of vehicle manufacturers, and even drove the pace car at several popular races.

The famed pilot’s flying adventures continued through his 89th birthday, when he broke the sound barrier yet again in an F-15 operated by another pilot in 2012, celebrating the 65th anniversary of the day he first flew beyond Mach 1.

(Photo by Fairfax Media/Getty Images)

Yeager was 97 at the time of his death, on Dec. 7, 2020 — not far from the site of his first supersonic record in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately he didn’t live long enough to see the return of commercial supersonic travel — though whether or not that becomes a reality within any of our lifetimes remains… up in the air.

Featured photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.