"It didn't make any difference to me whether I thought the airplane would go faster than sound. I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly it."
The plane was the X-1, the year was 1947, the pilot was Chuck Yeager. But even before he made history by breaking the sound barrier, Yeager's exploits during World War II had made him a legend among his fellow flyers.
Shot down over occupied France, the wounded flyer successfully evaded capture and crossed the Pyrenees into neutral Spain, before returning to his squadron in England. Returning to the skies, he shot down five German planes in a single day, an extraordinary feat.
After the war, Yeager broke speed records again and again, testing new planes for the U.S Air Force. He served in both Korea and Vietnam, and helped train the first generation of U.S. astronauts. Along the way, he survived an incredible series of harrowing accidents. The bestselling book and hit movie The Right Stuff, and his own best-selling autobiography, Yeager, brought him international fame, but his courage and resourcefulness had already assured his place in the history of aviation.