Washington, DC, Dec. 8, 2020 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen today issued the following statement, regarding the Dec. 7 passing of Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace and renowned test pilot.
“Seventy-nine years to the day after the U.S. entered World War II, we lost one of the greats from our Greatest Generation. Chuck Yeager’s courage, patriotism and flying skills were remarkable, and we salute this genuine American hero.”
Perhaps best known as the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, Yeager survived being shot down over France in March 1944 and evaded capture for several weeks with help from the French Resistance. He later petitioned Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in person to be permitted to return to active duty, and ultimately flew 61 air combat missions over Europe.
Renowned for his flying skill despite having only high school education, after the war, Yeager became a flight instructor and test pilot for the newly formed U.S. Air Force and flew the Bell Aircraft X-1 rocket plane to Mach 1.06 on Oct. 14, 1947. He continued to fly for the USAF and NASA long after his retirement from the service in 1975.
Yeager’s exploits as a test pilot were lauded in the 1979 Tom Wolfe novel and 1983 film “The Right Stuff,” chronicling the early days of the U.S. manned spaceflight program. He partnered with Piper Aircraft in the 1980s to establish several time-to-climb, coast-to-coast and international speed records for general aviation aircraft at the controls of a Piper PA42 Cheyenne 400LS turboprop twin.