WASHINGTON: Chuck Yeager, the first person to travel at a speed faster than the speed of sound, has passed away at the age of 97. "It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET," Victoria Yeager tweeted on her husband's account on Tuesday.
"An incredible life well lived, America's greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever."
Yeager was born in 1923, in Myra, West Virginia. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in September 1941, was accepted for pilot training under the flying sergeant programme in July 1942, and received his pilot wings and appointment as a flight officer in March 1943 at Luke Field, Arizona, the US Air Force said on its website.
During World War II, Yeager distinguished himself in aerial combat over France and Germany during the years 1943-1945 by shooting down 13 aircraft, five on one mission, including one of Germany's first jet fighters.
Yeager made history on October 14, 1947, when he became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound during his nine-year assignment as the nation's leading test pilot.
He also became the first man to fly more than twice the speed of sound in level flight, flying the Bell X-lA on December 12, 1953, the US Air Force said.
"Today's passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager is a tremendous loss to our nation. Gen. Yeager's pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America's abilities in the sky and set our nation's dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
"Among many firsts in more than 60 years in aviation, Chuck was the first man to fly at the speed of sound, and his achievements rival any of our greatest firsts in space. Not content to rest on his laurels, he went on to break his own record and travel at Mach 2.44. But even before that he was serving his country heroically in World War II." Yeager's heroics have been immortalised in the book "The Right Stuff." (IANS)