By Michael Baadke
“Few moments in American history can match the day that the experimental aircraft Bell X-1, piloted by U.S. Air Force Captain Charles E. ‘Chuck’ Yeager, broke the sound barrier.”
That’s how the United States Postal Service introduced its plans for a new stamp honoring Yeager’s remarkable achievement. The stamp pictures the Bell X-1 in flight, and bears the inscription, “First Supersonic Flight 1947” (Scott 3173). It was issued Oct. 14, 1997.
Yeager, who was born Charles Elwood Yeager on Feb. 13, 1923, was present at the 1997 first-day ceremony at Edwards Air Force Base in California to see the new stamp being introduced. Now a retired brigadier general, Yeager turns 93 today.
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Yeager underwent flight training in the early years of World War II and was stationed in the United Kingdom. After the war he became a test pilot, and successfully broke the sound barrier on a planned experimental flight on Oct. 14, 1947. The commemorative stamp was issued exactly 50 years later.