Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier

On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier flying the experimental Bell X-1, named Glamorous Glennis, at Mach 1.07 at an altitude of 45,000 feet (13,700 metres).

In the days leading up to the historic flight, Yeager broke two ribs in an accident, but was so afraid of being removed from the mission that he sought medical attention from a veterinarian and refrained from disclosing his injury to anyone other than his wife and a fellow pilot. On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the aircraft’s hatch by himself, and needed a rigged device that employed a broom handle to help him close the hatch from inside the aircraft.

Some aviation historians contend that others actually may have broken the sound barrier in advance of Yeager, however Yeager’s feat is generally recognized as the world’s first.

Yeager’s Bell X-1 is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.