Air Force legend Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager turned 93 this year, but don't let that milestone fool you into believing that he's too old to be tech-savvy. A couple of years ago he started to tweet about his exploits during his long flying career, which spanned more than sixty years. Here's an example:
My friend, James "Jimmy" Doolittle, was born on December 14, 1896 in Alameda, California. He promoted me to 2nd lt. then Captain during WWII
— Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) December 15, 2015
Reading General Yeager's tweets is like looking back at his life, and what an amazing life it's been. Here are a few reasons why the private who rose to become a general just might be the greatest military pilot ever.
1. He enlisted to be a mechanic. Within two years, he was a pilot.
In September 1941, 18-year-old Yeager enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an an aircraft mechanic. His eyesight and natural flying ability earned him a Flight Officer (Warrant Officer equivalent) slot at Luke Field, Arizona. By November 1943, he was in England flying P-51 Mustangs against the Nazi Luftwaffe.
Mar 4, 1944. 72 years ago today, WWII, I shot down my 1st enemy a/c. (Also my 2nd but did not get credit). — Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) March 4, 2016
2. After being shot down, he aided the French Resistance.
Visited w/ some WWII Maquis who saved my life. They reminded me I helped them blow up bridges by fixing the fuses... http://t.co/Ti3oXbnJUW
— Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) September 30, 2013
3. He fought to go back into air combat and won.
During WWII, pilots who were helped by resistance groups during evasion couldn't return to air combat in the same theater. The reason was that if they pilot were downed and captured, he could reveal information about the resistance. Since the Allies were already in France and the Maquis were openly fighting against the Nazis, Yeager argued there was little the he could reveal that the Nazis would learn. Eisenhower agreed and returned him to flying status.
Jan 16, 1944 - Gen Eisenhower took command of Allied invasion force in UK.He's the 1 let me back on combat after being shot down o'er France — Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) January 17, 2016
4. Yeager downed five enemies in a single mission. Two of those without firing a shot.
On October 12, 1944, he flew into firing position against a Messerschmitt BF-109 when the enemy pilot panicked, broke to starboard and collided with his wingman. Both pilots bailed out.
5. He scored one of the first kills against jet aircraft.
The German ME-262 was the second jet-powered fighter aircraft. It didn't appear in the war until mid-1944, too late to make a difference in air superiority. It was still able to take down more than 500 allied fighters, however. Not before Yeager took down two ME-262s. He finished WWII with at least 11 kills and the rank of captain.
Nov 6, 1944: I saw the Me 262 on final for landing. Very unsportsmanlike but what the hell? My only choice was to... http://t.co/NQ1ZWZMnrC — Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) November 22, 2013
6. He became a test pilot after the war.
When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, Yeager stayed in and became a test pilot at what would become Edwards Air Force Base. He was one of the first U.S. pilots to fly a captured MiG-15 after its North Korean pilot defected to the South.
Sept 1953: Gen Boyd calls me in: Pack your bags. Me: Why, Sir? Gen Boyd: A North Korean defector just brought in... http://t.co/qyYqZFXFum — Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) October 13, 2013
7. Yeager broke the sound barrier with two broken ribs
Look for "Fred," a bartender at Pancho's Place, in the 1983 film "The Right Stuff."
ANSWER re RIGHT STUFF: Besides playing Fred in The Right Stuff, I flew many of the planes for the movie. I also... http://t.co/3uQQadAs4E — Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) September 8, 2013