60th Aniversary of the Breaking of the Sound Barrier
Date: Sunday, October 14 @ 17:57:18 MDT
October 14th 1947, Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than sound. Yeager breaks the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis", named after his wife. He was able to reach 670-mph or Mach 1.015 at Muroc Dry Lake, California. |Read More|
Charles Elwood Yeager began his career began in World War II as a private in the U.S. Army Air Force. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September, 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to Warrant Officer and became a P-51 fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes.
Yeager remained in the Air Force after the war, becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) and eventually being selected to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight, after Bell Aircraft test pilot "Slick" Goodlin demanded $150,000 to break the sound "barrier."
Many important structural and aerodynamic advances were first employed in the Bell X-1, including extremely thin yet exceptionally strong wing sections and a horizontal stabilizer that could be adjusted up and down to improve control, especially at transonic (near the speed of sound) speeds. Because of the stabilizer's success, later transonic military aircraft were designed with all moving horizontal stabilizers as standard equipment. The X-1's fuselage was essentialy shaped like a .50 caliber bullet.
Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, he broke two ribs while riding a horse. He was so afraid of being removed from the mission that he went to a veterinarian in a nearby town for treatment and told only his wife, as well as friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley about it.
On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the airplane's hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device to allow Yeager to seal the hatch of the airplane.
After being air-launched from under the bomb bay of a B-29A at 21,000 feet, Captain Yeager ignited the
four-chambered XLR-11 rocket engines . The 6,000-pound thrust rockets, buringing an ethyl alcohol/liquid oxygen mixture, pushed him up to a speed of Mach 1.06 and to an altitude of 45,000 feet.
Yeager's X-1 is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. Yeager was awarded the MacKay and Collier Trophies in 1948 for his mach-transcending flight, and the Harmon International Trophy in 1954.
Some aviation historians contend that American pilot George Welch broke the sound barrier before Yeager, once while diving an XP-86 Sabre on October 14, 1947, and again just 30 minutes before Yeager's X-1 flight. There was also a disputed claim by German pilot Hans Guido Mutke that he was the first person to break the sound barrier, on April 9, 1945, in a Messerschmitt Me.262. Postwar testing, however, determined that the Me-262 would go out of control and break apart well short of Mach 1.
Discuss this article on the Forums.
|Click on image below for Video of the X-1|