October 14th of this year marked the 70th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier. This feat was accomplished in the Bell X1 as it was piloted by Captain Charles (Chuck) Yeager of the USAF. Chuck Yeager is one of my life long heroes. Not only was he leading test pilot of the emerging jet age, he was a decorated World War 2 double ace. Yeager shot down 11 airplanes during the war and was himself shot down over France. He evaded capture by the Germans and returned to England to fly and fight again.
After the end of the war Yeager became a test pilot. His flying ability was exceptional and he was selected to fly the Bell XS1 in an attempt to break the sound barrier. Yeager was not a typical test pilot. He was a high school graduate who started in the Army as a private. He earned his pilot’s wings through a wartime flying sergeants program.
After breaking the sound barrier Yeager went on to a successful career as an Air Force officer eventually retiring as a Brigadier General. You can read about Chuck Yeager’s amazing life in his autobiography “Yeager.” Chuck Yeager Autobiography
There is a saying in aviation attributed to Harry Copeland. “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” Yeager was one of the boldest pilots ever and as of this writing he is still alive in his mid-90’s. How did Yeager live to be an old, bold pilot? While Yeager was an extremely talented and fearless stick and rudder pilot, his success and long life was attributed to his in-depth knowledge regarding the aviation task at hand. Yeager was relentless in working to understand all the systems involved in his assigned flight test. Yeager faced many daunting emergencies during his career. His complete knowledge of the situation saved his life many times. The saying “knowledge is power” is very true and in some cases it can save your life.
What can we learn from my hero Chuck Yeager? Whenever we face a significant event in our lives we should take the time to acquire as much knowledge as possible. With the availability of information in today’s world, approaching a major event with limited knowledge is inexcusable. Here are some examples of major events where knowledge is critical.
• Buying a house or car
• Selecting a college
• Preparing for a job interview
• Planning a vacation
• Financial planning
Acquiring knowledge is critical when facing big decisions or events in our lives. The idea that knowledge equals power is a timeless concept. Approaching one of these events with limited knowledge is unwise. Do your homework, be prepared for the big events in your life!
Make the most of this day!