NASA, astronauts and more mourn death of Chuck Yeager, the world’s first supersonic pilot

The space and aviation community worldwide mourned the death of Chuck Yeager at the age of 97 on Monday (Dec. 7). He is best remembered for being the U.S. Air Force pilot who first broke the sound barrier on Oct. 14, 1947.

Yeager’s adventures were chronicled in numerous formats, including Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book “The Right Stuff,” which inspired a 1983 Hollywood film and a new Disney Plus series that both share the same name. 

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine released a statement concerning Yeager’s passing on the agency’s website, and also posted on Twitter. 

Related: Breaking the sound barrier: The greatest moments in flight

Today’s passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager is a tremendous loss to our nation. His 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. Read my full statement: 8, 2020

“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,” Bridenstine’s statement said in part. “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.’ “

Yeager’s death also caught the attention of senior space people around the world, including the Canadian Space Agency’s Gilles Leclerc, the agency’s director-general of space exploration.

Chuck Yeager, Test Pilot Who Broke the Sound Barrier, Is Dead at 97 “If there is such a thing as the right stuff in piloting, then it is experience. The secret to my success was that somehow I always managed to live to fly another day.” 8, 2020

Within the United States, Yeager’s life caused reflections among numerous space and aviation agencies and institutions. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations of the newly created Space Force, paid tribute to Yeager, along with the U.S. Air Force, Edwards Air Force Base (where Yeager performed his famous flight), the National Air and Space Museum and the Federal Aviation Administration.

.@GenChuckYeager’s bold, courageous & pioneering spirit helped rocket America into the age of Space. His legacy lives on, inspiring all of us to take risk & break barriers. #RIPChuckYeager 8, 2020

World War II ace. Aviation pioneer. A giant within the Air Force.Join us in celebrating the extraordinary life and mourning the loss of Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager. May he rest in peace and his legacy live on forever. 8, 2020

We mourn the passing and celebrate the life and legacy of a pilot who truly had the right stuff, General Chuck Yeager. In 1947, Yeager broke the sound barrier and proved that we can always keep pushing further and faster. 8, 2020

General Yeager pushed boundaries and made the impossible possible. His legacy inspires us to continue looking beyond the horizon. 8, 2020 8, 2020

Astronauts around the world talked about the influence that Yeager’s life had on their careers. Among the spaceflyers speaking about Yeager were retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (who spent nearly a year in space), Anousheh Ansari (the first female space tourist) and Chris Hadfield (the famous Canadian astronaut who charmed social media channels during his last flight in 2012-2013).

Iconic Test Pilot General Chuck Yeager has slipped the surly bonds of earth. A WWII fighter ace and the first human to break the sound barrier. He was a true legend with the right stuff. Fair winds and following seas, General Yeager. #RIPChuckYeager 8, 2020

An American legend, a war hero, and great story-teller. He’s is why I joined the Air Force. I had the honor to meet & talk with him several times. I’ll never forget his stories about the Air Corps’ “flesh peddlers!” 😂We will never see another like him. Godspeed General Yeager! 8, 2020

God Speed Chuck Yeager! RIP.December 8, 2020

I was saddened to hear of the passing of an aviation pioneer. #ChuckYeager proved that no barrier can constrain the ingenuity of the human spirit. Not even seemingly “impossible” ones.Godspeed Gen. Chuck Yeager – thank you for shattering limits. 8, 2020

Barriers are meant to be broken. Godspeed General #ChuckYeager 8, 2020

Godspeed #ChuckYeager. A WW2 Ace Pilot at the age of 21 and embodiment of the #RightStuff as the fastest man alive at the ripe age of 24. An incredible life and an amazing American legend.December 8, 2020

A legend! Chuck Yeager, 1st pilot to break the sound barrier, is dead at 97 8, 2020

I honour this brave and singular man who served his country, expanded scientific understanding, and inspired me. 8, 2020

A huge inspiration to me and so many – very sad to hear that the legend @GenChuckYeager has died. When we talk about someone having ‘the right stuff’, we will always remember him. 8, 2020

The world lost a great aviator and heroic trailblazer today. Godspeed, Chuck Yeager. 8, 2020

NASA flight directors Zebulon Scoville and Ed Van Cise also talked about the importance of Yeager’s legacy. In his tweet, Scoville quoted the poem “High Flight” by John McGee, a Second World War-era tribute to aviation’s wonder that was well-known among pilots of Yeager’s generation.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of EarthAnd danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirthOf sun-split clouds.I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flungMy eager craft through footless halls of air..RIP @GenChuckYeager 8, 2020

Sad news to wake up to this morning… 8, 2020

Aerospace companies across the United States also thanked Yeager for his contributions to aviation. These included Boeing, a long-time contractor for NASA that is now providing one of the two spacecraft that will be used for commercial crew missions, and Lockheed Martin, another decades-long NASA partner which is building the Orion spacecraft for crewed, deep-space exploration.

Pushing limits and breaking barriers, General Chuck Yeager showed us the dedication required to have the “right stuff.” As we look to the heavens today, we know Chuck Yeager’s pioneering spirit lifted us there.Photo: @USAirForce 8, 2020

Every time we look to the skies, we will be reminded of Gen. Chuck Yeager’s lasting impact and pioneering spirit. May he rest in peace. 8, 2020

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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