Chuck Yeager Essay, Research Paper
Military forces have many heroes and excellent pilots in its long history. Among them are General Henry ?Hap? Arnold, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, and Captain Marc Mitscher, who helped carved the air power the Air Force now possesses. In addition to these pilots, a personal favorite of mine is Brigadier General Charles E. ?Chuck? Yeager. He was a very influential figure in Air Force history. He helped pave the road to a faster, more efficient, and more superior Air Force.
Gen. Charles E. ?Chuck? Yeager was born in Myra, W. Va., on Feb 13, 1923. He enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps in September of 1941 and, after serving briefly as and aircraft mechanic, entered enlisted pilot training in September 1942. He graduated as an enlisted flight officer from Luke Field, Ariz., in March 1943 and was assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron at Tonopah, Nev., where he flew P-39s.
Prior to his record-breaking flights, Gen. Yeager was also involved in missions. In November 1943, his unit was sent to England where he entered combat flying a P-51 Mustang. He downed a German aircraft before being shot down over occupied France during his eighth mission on March 5, 1944. He evaded capture and managed to convince Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to permit him to return to combat with his squadron. He flew 56 more combat missions during which he shot down 11 more German aircraft including 5 Me 109s during a single mission on Oct. 12, 1944. He returned to the U. S. in Feb. 1945 and was assigned as a maintenance officer to the flight Test Division at Wright Field, Ohio. This is was an assignment, which was destined to lead to a major turning point in his career.
His remarkably superb flying skills quickly caught the attention of Col. Albert Boyd, chief of the division, and Col. Fred Ascani, his deputy. Ascani recalled, Yeager flew and airplane ?as though he was integral part of it; his feel or a new airplane was instinctive, intuitive and as natural as if he had already flown it for hundred or more hours.?
In 1946, he graduated from the Flight Performance School at Wright Field and, in 1947, Col. Boyd selected him as project pilot for one of the most important series of flights in history. In late summer 1947, he was sent to Muroc Army Field, now Edwards AFB, to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1. After launching from a B-29, on Oct. 14, 1947 he accelerated to a speed of Mach 1.06 at 42,000 feet and shattered the myth of the once-dreaded ?sound barrier? forever. Amazing though it was, Gen. Yeager?s first supersonic flight represented just the beginning of a sever-year career at Edwards during which would establish himself a one of the truly legendary figures among the world?s fraternity of test pilots.
With the help of Gen. Yeager, the late 1940s and ?50s was a time when the limits of time and space were being dramatically expanded. A whole series of experimental aircraft were designed to explore bold new concepts. Because of his outstanding pilot skill, his coolness under pressure and ability to detect a problem, quickly analyze it and take appropriate action, Yeager was selected to probe some of the most challenging unknowns of flight in aircraft such as the X-1a, X-3, X-4, X-5 and XF-92a. He continued to explore the mysteries of high-speed flight, for example, as he piloted the rocket powered X-1A to a record 1,650 mph on Dec. 12, 1953. During this flight, he became the first pilot to encounter inertia coupling. The aircraft literally tumbled about on all three axes as it plummeted for more than 40,000 feet before he was able to recover it to level flight. One man said, ?it was fortunate that Yeager was the pilot on that flight, so we had the airplane to fly another day.? After this flight, he was also involved in the evaluation of virtually all of the aircraft that were then being considered for the Air Force?s operational inventory. He averaged more than 100 flying hours per month from 1947-1954 and, at one point, actually few 27 different types and models of aircraft within the span of a single month.
After the remarkable career of being a test pilot he went to Air War College and graduated in June of 1961. He then returned to Edwards AFB where in July 1962, he was selected to serve as commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School where he was responsible for the training of U. S. military astronaut candidates. In July 1966, he then assumed command of the 495th Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. During his tour, he flew 127 combat missions over Vietnam. In February 1968, he took command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, N. C., and in February 1968, he led its deployment to Korea during the Pueblo crisis. In July 1969, he became vice commander of the 17th Air Force, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and then, in January 1971, he was assigned as U. S. defense representative to Pakistan. On June 1, 1973, he commenced his final active duty assignment as director of the AF Safety and Inspection Center at Norton AFB, California. After a 34 year military career, he retired on March 1, 1975. At the time of his retirement, he had flown more than 10,000 hours in more than 330 different types and model of aircraft.
Gen. Yeager was a great impact. Former test pilot and Gemini/Apollo astronaut Michael Collins once observed that ?test pilots are a select group within a select group.? That fact has remained constant since the early days of aviation. Within this select group, Chuck Yeager became the leader, recognized as first among equals, the role model for his fellow test pilots. The magnitude of his achievements can be measured from the fact that he has been the recipient of every major award in the field of flight, such as awards that range from the Collier Trophy to the Harmon International Trophy and the Federation Aeronautical International Gold medal. In addition, he has the highest honors that our nation can accord, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a special peacetime Medal of Honor.
Without question, Brigadier General Charles E. ?Chuck? Yeager has been a very influential figure in U. S. aviation history. His accomplishments that he earned were well deserved for all the obstacles he tackled. He was a major role in bridging the gap to a new aeronautical world.