Chuck Yeager, First Pilot to Break the Sound Barrier and Inspiration for THE RIGHT STUFF, Dies at 97

Photo from Chuck Yeager’s IMDB profile

Chuck Yeager, First Pilot to Break the Sound Barrier and Inspiration for THE RIGHT STUFF, Dies at 97

By Movieguide® Staff

Chuck Yeager, who was the first person to break the sound barrier and the subject of a book and movie called THE RIGHT STUFF, has died at age 97.

Yeager’s wife, Victoria Yeager, announced his death via Twitter on Monday, December 7. 

“It is with profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9 p.m. ET,” Victoria wrote. “An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest pilot and a legacy of strength, adventure and patriotism will be remembered forever.”

Yeager’s death is “a tremendous loss to our nation,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

“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. He said, ‘You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done,’” Bridenstine said.

He was “the most righteous of all those with the right stuff,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards.

Before his accolades as a flying ace and legendary test pilot, Yeager began his career during World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. 

Variety reported: 

After the war, he became a test pilot, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at an altitude of 45,000 feet to become the first human to officially break the sound barrier. For this feat, Yeager received both the Collier and Mackay trophies in 1948.

Yeager later commanded fighter squadrons in Germany and Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and was promoted to brigadier general in 1969. Yeager retired on March 1, 1975.

Yeager’s historic accomplishment inspired the 1979 book, “The Right Stuff,” by Tom Wolfe and Philip Kaufman’s 1983 movie of the same name, covering Yeager’s historic breaking of the sound barrier up to the Mercury 7 astronauts.  

Movieguide® recently reviewed the Disney+ show called THE REAL RIGHT STUFF, which follows the same seven astronauts in their quest to space:

THE REAL RIGHT STUFF is an awe-inspiring, faith-filled documentary on Disney Plus [Disney+] about the seven American astronauts who paved the way for space travel in the 1960s…  

THE REAL RIGHT STUFF is a superb, brilliantly structured documentary with a strong moral, patriotic worldview. Americans rally together in their quest to win the Space Race and thwart Communist Russia’s scientific intentions. The movie doesn’t shy away from stressing the major role that Christian faith played in many of the astronauts’ personal lives. THE REAL RIGHT STUFF also includes positive references to honoring one’s wife, family, Heaven, and being God-fearing.

Movieguide® will also have a review of National Geographic’s upcoming series called THE RIGHT STUFF.