Science Art: Bell X-1A In Flight (aviation anniversary tribute 2)

Chuck Yeager's plane

Chuck Yeager's plane

On October 14, 1947, “stick and rudder man” Chuck Yeager proved that you didn’t dissolve, explode or travel through time if you went faster than the speed of sound. He did it at the controls of the Bell X-1 rocket plane he’d named Glamorous Glennis, after his wife. The Air Force was all like, “Hey, we made this tube out of metal and stuffed it full of explosives to see how fast it’ll go! Wanna ride in it?” and Chuck was all like, “Does it have a stick and a rudder?” and they were like, “Yeah, sure does! Although we don’t know how well they’ll work at maximum velocity, dude,” and Chuck was like, “OK, sure!”

This is because he was awesome. There was a movie (and a book) called The Right Stuff about the first astronauts. Even though he wasn’t an astronaut, he was in the movie. And totally stole the show. Because, as previously stated, awesome. Oh, and while he was getting into the X-1 on that October day, he kinda forgot to mention that he’d just broken a couple of ribs falling off a horse because, y’know, that might’ve made the Air Force nervous. And he wasn’t the nervous type.

A couple years after breaking the sound barrier, Yeager took a Bell X-1A, a plane a little bit longer than Glamorous Glennis, past Mach 2.4, more than doubling his previous record.

Image courtesy of the US Air Force.