Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Ace of Aces

General Chuck Yeager today at Nellis AFB after once again breaking the sound barrier. Image source: DVIDS.

At age 89, Chuck Yeager today broke the sound barrier on the 65th anniversary of his doing so for the first time.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

With a smile on his face and his escort pilot raising a hand to flash a hang-loose sign, legendary aviator Chuck Yeager taxied down the Nellis Air Force Base ramp at 9:27 a.m. Sunday in the back seat of a blue-gray F-15D Eagle.

He was on his way to make history again, this time to break the sound barrier in cloudless azure sky on the 65th anniversary of when he became the first person to do so.

At 9:45 a.m. with its twin engines aglow, the F-15 piloted by Capt. David Vincent of the 65th Aggressor Squadron took off for spot at more than 30,000 feet altitude over California's Mojave Desert where Yeager accomplished the feat on Oct. 14, 1947.

Yeager's jet returned for a safe landing at Nellis at 11:07 a.m.. and taxied beneath arches of water shot from two firetrucks.

After the flight, Yeager said he controlled the aircraft flying to and from the Edwards Flight Test Range, but Vincent was piloting the F-15D during the descent from 45,000 feet to 30,000 feet when he leveled off and exceeded the sound barrier at Mach 1.4.

Elsewhere today, in New Mexico, Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the sound barrier without a vehicle.

According to preliminary findings cited by Brian Utley, an official observer monitoring the mission, the 43-year-old Baumgartner flew higher than anyone ever in a helium hot air balloon and broke the record for the highest jump.

Still, even Baumgartner seemed taken aback when Utley detailed how fast he had fallen at one point -- 833.9 mph, or Mach 1.24, smashing his goal to break the sound barrier.

"I was fighting all the way down to regain control because I wanted to break the speed of sound," said Baumgartner, who did it all with nothing but a space suit, helmet and parachute. "And then I hit it."

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