14 October 1947: Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier

On this day in 1947, the rocket-powered Bell X-1 – nicknamed 'Glamorous Glennis' – blasted through the sound barrier, with Chuck Yeager at the controls.

Could an aeroplane stand up to the stresses of flying faster than the speed of sound? Could a man, for that matter?

American fighter ace Charles Chuck' Yeager was determined to prove that they could. He volunteered to fly a rocket plane' the Bell X-1 faster than anyone had ever done before. And he did it with two broken ribs.

Two days before the big flight, Yeager had been thrown from his horse. Fearing he would be banned from flying, he hid his injuries, telling only the flight engineer, Jack Ridley. Ridley fashioned a special handle from a broomstick allowing Yeager to pull the cockpit door shut and lock it.

On 14 October 1947, a B-29 Superfortress took off, carrying Chuck Yeager and the X-1, which Yeager had named Glamorous Glennis' after his wife. Once the bomber had reached 23,000 feet, the X-1, with Yeager at the controls, was released.

Yeager fired all four engine chambers and the X-1 roared to life, climbed to 43,000 feet, and accelerated toMach 1.06. Chuck Yeager became officially the first person to break the sound barrier.

The press went wild once news of the daring feat had been declassified the following summer. Yeager was celebrated as "the fastest man alive" and was awarded several prizes for the achievement.

Five years later, Yeager served as the wingman for the fastest woman alive', when Jackie Cochran flew faster than the speed of sound in 1953.

Today, the X-1 is on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Chuck Yeager, aged 97, still lives under the same Californian sky in which he flew into history.

Recommended

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments
State pensions

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments

LCP launches Mothers Missing Millions campaign amid DWP state pension errors.
3 Dec 2022
The top funds to invest in now
Funds

The top funds to invest in now

As market volatility continues, here are the top funds, stocks and investment trusts investors are putting their money into, according to one investme…
2 Dec 2022
The best places to live in the UK – and how much they will cost you
House prices

The best places to live in the UK – and how much they will cost you

Thinking of moving? Here are the best places to live in the UK and how much they will cost if you are buying.
2 Dec 2022
The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?
Personal finance

The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?

A smart meter can help you keep tabs on your energy usage, but is it better than a regular meter? We take a look at smart meters vs regular meters.
2 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?

Sales of portable heaters have soared, as households look to cut their energy costs. But which is better: a fan heater or an oil heater? We put them t…
21 Nov 2022
The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?
Personal finance

The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?

A smart meter can help you keep tabs on your energy usage, but is it better than a regular meter? We take a look at smart meters vs regular meters.
2 Dec 2022