Chuck Yeager — the legendary airman who was the first person in history confirmed to break the sound barrier — died on Monday night at age 97, according to a post on his verified Twitter account.
The famed test pilot’s death was announced in a heartfelt statement by his wife of 17 years, Victoria Yeager.
“It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET,” she wrote on his account.
“An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever.”
A World War II fighter pilot, Yeager rocketed into history by breaking the sound barrier in the experimental Bell X-1 research aircraft in 1947, helping to pave the way for the US space program.
Yeager reached a then astounding 40,000 feet and notched a speed of over 662 miles per hour in his historic Southern California flight.
Yeager’s life was famously portrayed in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 tome “The Right Stuff,” — which was later adapted into an Oscar-winning film — chronicling the postwar research in high-speed aircraft that led to NASA’s Project Mercury.
Yeager was born in West Virginia in 1923. Soon after graduating high school in 1941 he enlisted in the US Army Air Forces, later known as the US Air Force.