Brig. Gen. Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager, the first pilot to fly aircraft exceeding the speed of sound, has died at the age of 97.
A tweet posted on the former U.S. Air Force pilot’s official Twitter account and attributed to his wife, Victoria Yeager, confirmed the World War II ace died just before 9 p.m. Monday.
Yeager, who was portrayed by actor Sam Shepard in the movie “The Right Stuff,” broke the sound barrier over the Mojave Desert in 1947, flying the experimental Bell XS-1 rocket plane over Muroc Dry Lake in California, NBC News reported.
The West Virginia native had a reputation as a daring test pilot, who buzzed under Charleston’s South Side Bridge in 1948, West Virginia MetroNews reported.
A cause of death has not yet been released.
Yeager was born in Myra, West Virginia, on Feb. 13, 1923, to Albert Hal Yeager and Susie Mae (Sizemore) Yeager.
Although he is best known for piloting the first supersonic flight, Yeager flew more than 200 different types of military aircraft during his 34-year career with the Air Force, CNN reported.
According to the network, Yeager, who shot down more than a dozen German planes as a fighter pilot during World War II, is credited twice with shooting down more than four planes in a single day: Oct. 12 and Nov. 27, 1944.
He also flew combat missions during both the Korean and Vietnam wars and created a foundation to help finance youth pilot programs and college scholarships, CNN reported.
Yeager married Victoria Scott D’Angelo in August 2003.
He was previously wed to Glennis Faye Dickhouse from Feb. 26, 1945, until her death on Dec. 22, 1990. The couple have four children.
Cox Media Group