Aviator and test pilot Chuck Yeager was born on February 13, 1923, in Myra, West Virginia. A fighter pilot ace during World War II, Yeager became the first to break the sound barrier, when he flew the Bell X-1 rocket 670 mph in level flight (October 14, 1947).
He broke the sound barrier for the last time aged 79, when his F-15 Eagle reached a speed of Mach 1.45 (October 26, 2002). Yeager held various air-force command assignments from 1954 to 1962. He was vice commander of the Ramstein, Germany, Air Base (1968-1969); U.S. defense representative to Pakistan (1971-1973); and director of aerospace safety at Norton Air Force Base in California (1973-1975).
Yeager’s autobiography, Press On, was published in 1985. That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He appears as the main character in Tom Wolfe’s book, The Right Stuff, and as the epitome of that virtue he appeared in many commercial endorsements.