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This Day in Aviation History
May 22, 1990
In 1990… The German Luftwaffe flies the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter for the last time before it is withdrawn from service; the airplane was nicknamed the widow-maker because of its terrible safety record in its five years of service, 110 Starfighter pilots were killed. (AYY)
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a high-performance supersonic interceptor aircraft, capable of high speeds and climb rates. The Starfighter entered service with the US Air Force in 1958, but dissatisfaction with the aircraft’s range, load-carrying ability, and equipment led to it being phased out in 1967. However, the Starfighter sold well abroad, particularly to the air forces of Germany, Canada and Italy, where high-speed fighter-bomber versions continued in service until the mid 1980s (and, in the case of the Italian Air Force, until 2004).
Bob Crowley, an accomplished journalist wrote this a few years back for the WBAP-AM website, has re-written it, and sent it to General Yeager in honor of his 89th birthday. The website team thinks this is very apt and is posting it in honor of General Chuck Yeager.
“General Yeager is a personal hero of mine. Let me tell you why.
Many died trying to fly MACH 1. However, General Yeager became the first man to fly MACH 1, the speed of sound, and beyond. He and Jack Ridley understood the asymmetrical force the supersonic shock wave placed on the stabilizer, and solved the problem.
But that’s not why he’s my hero.
During World War Two, Chuck Yeager was a P-51 fighter pilot. He was shot down over France. He evaded capture, linked up with the Maquis, and escaped to Spain. He could have gone home, but argued, all the way up to General Eisenhower, to be sent back into combat. He did go back, and one day he was credited with downing 5 German planes on one mission… an ‘Ace In A Day”.
But that’s not why he is my hero.
After solving the problem of supersonic flight, Chuck Yeager led the first aero-space school for pilots. He also participated in accident investigations. He flew with Jackie Cochran to the Soviet Union. He advised the Pakistani Air Force. He was the first American to fly a Soviet Mig-15.
But those are not the reasons he is my hero.
Here is why. He could have retired to the private sector in the 1950’s, but didn’t. Instead he was sent to Europe, and assigned to a squadron that would have made a one-way flight with nuclear bombs if war had broken out. Again, in the 1960’s, when he could have retired and spent his time doing endorsements, serving on corporate boards and having a comfortable life, he didn’t. He went to Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam war to lead a group of attack-bombers. He flew more than 100 missions personally.
Instead of choosing wealth and comfort, he chose to serve his country.
That’s what makes him my hero.”
Recent Articles about General Chuck Yeager
Gen. Chuck Yeager was interviewed by Jack Houvouras to mark the 65th anniversary of his breaking the sound barrier. Gen. Yeager shared his thoughts on making history, modern aviation, his scholarship program at Marshall University, and the challenge of slowing down for a man who has lived life at full throttle. Having just turned 89, Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager shows few signs of slowing down, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who know the aviation icon was once known as the fastest man alive. Read more.
The legendary test pilot, who has clocked more than 19 000 flying hours during his illustrious career, demonstrates that he is still young at heart, battle ready and as passionate about flying and life as ever. Read more.
When the Cape red hartebeest dropped in an instant after a perfect heart shot I knew I was in special company. My client was none other than the world-renowned American aviation legend, Brigadier General Chuck Yeager…the General and his lovely wife, Victoria, both hunted with me in the Western Cape, South Africa, during October 2010. A formidable fighter and test pilot whose combat credentials include World War II and Vietnam, General Yeager is a deadly shot, as is his wife. Read more.
In the first segment, Gen. Yeager tells about his World War II experiences as a fighter pilot. He describes being shot down over Bordeaux France, his escape from German patrols, fighting with the French Maquis resistance, and evasion to Spain. He tells about his repatriation and return to combat flying. The first segment ends with a description of his enduring friendships with Gen. Eisenhower and with Jackie Cochran, who headed the Wasps from 1942-1944. In the second segment, Gen. Yeager tells about his opportunity to pilot the X-1 Rocket Research plane and become the first human to break the sound barrier, and more about his friendships with Jackie Cochran, plus Howard Hughes and Poncho Barnes. Hear him tell about the Air Force Astronaut School and his training of the first U. S. Astronauts. Listen to the interview.
The Right Stuff: Chuck Yeager Wows Students in Reno with tales of Flying Jets and Breaking the Sound Barrier, April 30, 2011, by Jennifer Burton
General Chuck Yeager recently shared his incredible story of blasting through the sound barrier with students, teachers and guests at Sage Ridge School in Reno. The parents of Matthew Johnston, a senior at the school, invited Yeager to visit and talk about his adventures flying jets. Read more.