Today is Chuck Yeager’s 97th birthday

Chuck Yeager, first pilot to break the sound barrier, personified what it meant to have “the right stuff.”

Old man in flight uniform standing in front of distant fighter plane.

In 2012, the 89-year-old Yeager told reporters that he was still piloting airplanes. This photo via U.S. Air Force/Lawrence Crespo is from the 55th anniversary of his sound-breaking flight.

February 13, 1923. Chuck Yeager, first pilot to break what used to be known as the sound barrier, was born in Myra, West Virginia, on this date in 1923. He is 97 today.

We don’t hear much about the sound barrier anymore, because today we know it isn’t a barrier. It’s a term that describes the sudden and dramatic increase in aerodynamic drag and other effects experienced by an aircraft and its pilot approaching the speed of sound. In dry air at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), the speed of sound is 741 miles per hour (1,192 km/hr).

Chuck Yeager became the first to break the sound barrier – in a Bell XS-1 aircraft he’d nicknamed Glamorous Glennis in tribute to his wife – on the morning of October 14, 1947. The plane is still on display today at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Today, most of us know Yeager from the classic 1983 movie “The Right Stuff.” Yeager later said that the late actor Sam Shepard, who played Yeager in the movie, was right-on.

At age 97, Yeager is still very active on Twitter and has over 133.5K followers. You’ll find him on Twitter as @GenChuckYeager.

You can also read in Yeager’s own words how he broke the sound barrier in this article at Popular Mechanics, which originally published it in 1987 and re-ran it in 2016, on the 40th anniversary of Yeager’s historic flight.

Dubbed the fastest man alive, Yeager continued setting speed records after his first Mach 1 flight. He also won many awards, including the prestigious Collier Trophy.

Yeager had enlisted in the Army Air Corps in September 1941, at the age of 18. He fought in World War II before being assigned to fly high-performance aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in 1947.

Young man in flight gear standing next to the pointy nose of a small jet plane.

Yeager in front of the Bell X-1, which, as with all of the aircraft assigned to him, he named Glamorous Glennis after his wife. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Bottom line: On February 13, 1923, Chuck Yeager – the first pilot to break the sound barrier – was born in Myra, West Virginia.

Read more: Chuck Yeager describes how he broke the sound barrier