A career combat ace through World War II, Yeager began his time in the service as a humble mechanic, worked his way up to enlisted pilot training and was eventually promoted to flight officer. As a P-15 Mustang fighter pilot, he shot down more than 11 enemy craft over the Western Front.

After VE Day, Yeager went on to test pilot a variety of new craft at the Muroc Army Air Field (now known as Edwards Air Base) in California, becoming the first person to fly at supersonic speeds during a trial of the Bell X-1 – then an experimental rocket-powered aircraft – in October 1947. For that feat, he was awarded the air force’s Mackay Trophy for “most meritorious flight of the year,” as well as the Robert J. Collier Trophy, given to those who make major strides in the field of aeronautics.



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