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Chuck Yeager surprised both himself and the judges with his two entries in the baked goods competition at the Nevada County Fair, California, which took place August 10-14, 2005. Yeager entered in the pie and cornbread categories with recipes General Yeager learned from his Mom growing up in West Virginia (well, Mrs. Yeager entered, but General Yeager did the cooking). General Yeager’s entries were butterscotch “pah” (which is West Virginian for “pie”) and cornbread (NOT cornCAKE) with sorghum, since buttermilk would not have lasted overnight.
The Yeagers thought he might do very well on the cornbread and pretty well on the butterscotch pie, but were they surprised! His butterscotch pie won first place in the “men’s only” category, a win that surprised the man who became famous after breaking the sound barrier almost 60 years ago.
He had never entered a baking contest before but has been attending the fair since 1975. Another first for this American Hero! Yeager’s cornbread entry did not do as well as his pie entry. The Judges didn’t know the difference between cornBREAD and cornCAKE, but got a quick lesson after the contest from Yeager. “People out here make cake. It looks like cake and tastes like cake,” he said.
He explained that cornBREAD, as any true midwesterner or southerner knows, is made with WHITE corn meal, without eggs or sugar, and ends up much flatter than the variety people out here are used to. “It is people on the West Coast who have it wrong,” he said. All the other entries had some variety of ingredients not true to cornbread.
Yeager said he remembers his grandmother’s butterscotch pie being a favorite of his when he was a kid, which is why he chose the recipe to enter into the county-wide competition. “It was something to see how people react to something like a butterscotch pie,” the retired Air Force general said. “People think of butterscotch as a candy, but it also makes an awfully good pie.” Local radio celebrity Thom Myers came in second in the pie competition, saying “If I have to come in second to anyone, Chuck Yeager isn’t so bad.” The next day, Thom tasted Chuck Yeager’s pie on the air and declared it was truly great and better than his apple pie entry.
General Yeager’s favorites at the fair were the delicious cinnamon rolls and real lemonade provided by the same company for the 30 years General Yeager has attended.
While Yeager said he hopes to enter the competition again next year, his plans are still up in the air. “I don’t know, I’m 82, I don’t even buy green bananas anymore.”
Background photo by Shelly Borrell.
Tulsa Air & Space Museum Opening
Chuck Yeager opened Tulsa’s bigger, better Air and Space Museum at its grand opening on November 12, 2005. What better way to celebrate their sleek, new showpiece than with the pilot who was once the fastest man alive. It was especially fun to see kids coming through on a field trip, while unbeknownst to the youngsters, just a few feet away, was a piece of living history. Legendary test pilot and World War II ace Chuck Yeager, the man who broke the sound barrier, was on hand to help raise money for the museum and other charities.
Gen. Yeager said, “Yeah, if you don’t study history, you’ll make the same mistake twice.”
Speaking of history, Yeager’s good friend and flight engineer on the X1 project to break the sound barrier was Major Jack Ridley from Garvin, Oklahoma. “Brilliant little guy and a good pilot. He was my classmate in test pilot school, and he flew the X1 after I got it above Mach One. He was a very talented guy,” said Yeager. Besides being bigger and cooler, the museum now has the ability to hang exhibits from the ceiling, giving people a better idea of what the planes look like in flight. Chuck Yeager said, “They’re doing a beautiful job with the facilities. Hell, you could make wooden airplanes cheaper than you can get an aluminum one; the real planes are rare and hard to get, but they make the trip worthwhile.”