October 14

This Day in History

Lead Story

Oct 14, 1947:

Yeager breaks sound barrier

U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.

For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. All that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The rocket plane, nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis," was designed with thin, unswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.

Because of the secrecy of the project, Bell and Yeager's achievement was not announced until June 1948. Yeager continued to serve as a test pilot, and in 1953 he flew 1,650 miles per hour in an X-1A rocket plane. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general.

Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

This Week in History, Oct 14 - Oct 20

Oct 14, 1947
Yeager breaks sound barrier
Oct 15, 1917
Mata Hari executed
Oct 16, 1934
The Long March
Oct 17, 1931
Capone goes to prison
Oct 18, 1867
U.S. takes possession of Alaska
Oct 19, 1781
Victory at Yorktown
Oct 20, 1947
Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood

What Happened on Your Birthday?

Pick a Date

Shop HISTORY