Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (born February 13, 1923) is a former brigadier general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He is widely considered to be the first pilot to travel faster than sound (1947). Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force's retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.
His career began in World War II as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September, 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of Flight Officer (WW 2 U.S. Army Air Forces rank equivalent to Warrant Officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). Although Scott Crossfield was the first man to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter exceeded Mach 2.4. He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager's flying career spans more than sixty years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, even into the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
Yeager was born to farming-parents Susie Mae and Albert Hal Yeager in Myra, West Virginia and graduated from high school in Hamlin, West Virginia. Yeager had two brothers, Roy and Hal, Jr., and two sisters, Doris Ann (accidentally killed by Roy with a shotgun while still an infant) and Pansy Lee. His first association with the military was as a participant in the Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana, during both the summers of 1939 and 1940. On February 26, 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse, and the couple had four children. Glennis Yeager died in 1990.