HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – The passing of Chuck Yeager, America’s greatest pilot and the first to break the sound barrier, is hitting home to a local Air Force veteran in the Southern Tier.
“I teased him, you know, he was the first person to fly Mach one in the X-1 and I’m probably still the youngest person to fly Mach Two and the F-106,” said Wings of Eagle Discovery Center President Mike Hall.
Growing up in the 1950s, Hall said he was “fascinated” by what Yeager and his colleagues were doing at Edwards Air Force Base.
“They were really pushing the boundaries, extremely dangerous. A lot of personal risk a lot of courage and intuition.”
Over time the two crossed paths, with Hall describing Yeager as an “amazing person” and “totally humble and incredibly impressive” considering what Yeager was able to accomplish during his time, especially when he broke the sound barrier in 1947.
“I think it’s very hard for people today to appreciate how challenging and dangerous aviation was in the middle part of last century. Of course, it’s been just a little over a century that we’ve had flight available to us at all. It was really the mid part of that 100 years of flight when tremendous advances were made coming out of World War Two. The jets arrived and led to the space program and ultimately putting a person on the moon, and Chuck Yeager was woven throughout that.”
Hall described Yeager as one of the all-time figures in flight, “up there with the Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong” for his accomplishments as a pilot.
“It’s a real honor to, you know, to have met him and share some conversations with him, and he certainly will be missed. And so much of what we take for granted today was built on the shoulders of his accomplishment he and his colleagues, some of them, you know perish in the process out there that reserved for space, bringing us to where we are today and aviation so great was a great man.”