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This Day In History: Chuck Yeager Breaks The Sound Barrier For The First Time

October 14, 2016

This day in history, October 14, 1947, Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person in history to fly faster than the speed of sound and break the sound barrier.

He broke the sound barrier in the experimental Bell X-1 [Bell XS-1] rocket plane aircraft over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., which was then called Muroc Army Air Field.

Released from the bomb bay of a Boeing B-29, Glamorous Glennis was dropped at 10:26 a.m. from a height of more than 20,000 feet. Yeager (who had broken two ribs in a riding accident the night before) fired the four rocket motor chambers in pairs, breaking through the sound barrier as he increased airspeed to almost 700 mph and climbed to an altitude of 43,000 feet. The sound barrier at that altitude is roughly 662 miles per hour.

The XS-1 remained at supersonic speeds for 20.5 seconds, with none of the buffeting that characterized high-speed subsonic flight. The 14-minute flight was Yeager’s ninth since being named primary pilot in June 1947. The Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the forerunner of NASA) did not make the event public until Jun 10, 1948.