Chuck Yeager might be best known as being the first person to officially break the sound barrier, back in 1947, flying the Bell X-1. This story is well told in the 1983 movie The Right Stuff.
Perhaps less well-known, were his legendary exploits during WW2. He joined the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the soon to be famous, 357th Fighter Group, in 1943, flying the P-39 Aircaobra. He first entered combat in early 1944, flying the new P-51B Mustang (which he named Glamorous Glenn after his fiancé), and in short order claimed one Me 109 confirmed.
He was shot down soon after himself however, and had quite an adventure evading capture, crossing the Pyrenees and returning back to England. Pilots who managed to return to England after being shot down in Europe, were technically, not allowed to continue combat operations, but the persistent Yeager took his appeal right up the chain to Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. And won. And so did the USAAF.
He was back with his squadron in August 1944, first flying a P-51C (with the Malcolm 'bubble' hood) and soon upgraded to the infamous P-51D (which became the iconic Glamorous glenn III).
He had the distinction of being one of a few pilots being able to claim the title of Ace-in-day (Ace = 5 confirmed aerial victories), when on the 12 October, he shot down 5 Me 109s on one mission.
After the war he became a flight instructor and then an Air Force test pilot, securing a regular commission as a captain in 1947.
Yeager may have been a legendary test pilot, but he has always considered himself, first and foremost, to be a fighter pilot. He returned to operational flying in 1954, where he took over various commands. Following other routine assignments, he returned to test flying and commanded the new USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS), designed to prepare U.S. military test pilots for spaceflight. In 1968 he took command of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, and in 1975 retired from the air force with the rank of brigadier general. His autobiography, Yeager, is well worth a read. #ww2history #flightjacket #pilot