On October 14, 1947, USAF Captain Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager flew a Bell XS-1, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis” (a tribute to his wife), over Rogers Dry Lake located at Edward’s Air Force Base (formerly named Muroc Air Force Base). The X-1 reached a speed of
700 miles per hour and an altitude of 43,000 feet. As Yeager passed through the sound threshold, a sonic boom was heard across the Mojave desert.
As we approach the 75th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, the Unwritten Record has compiled photographs held in the Still Picture Branch that document Captain Yeager and the historic achievement.
Original Caption: “Capt. Charles Yeager, Air Force pilot who was the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, is shown in the cockpit of the Bell X-1 supersonic research aircraft at Muroc Air Force Base, California. Photo taken May 1948 by James Evans.” Local photo ID: 342-C-K-5027
Original Caption: “Three U.S. Air Force test pilots, all of whom have flown faster than the speed of sound, pose beside the Air Force’s supersonic X-1 aircraft at Muroc Air Force Base, California. Left to right: Capt. Charles Yeager, first to fly through the sonic barrier; Major Gus Lundquist, and Capt. James Fitzgerald. All are assigned to the Flight Test Division, Air Material Command. The X-1 is built by Bell Aircraft.” Local photo ID: 342-C-K-4921
Original Caption: “The Bell X-1 supersonic research aircraft undergoes servicing at Muroc Air Force Base, California, flight test center of the U.S. Air Force, before being carried aloft for a test flight. Scheduled to fly the mission is Capt. Charles E. Yeager who piloted the X-1 in its first supersonic flight in October 1947. Capt. Yeager is standing at the right in a group of five individuals at the cockpit canopy, wearing an overseas cap and jacket with a fur collar.” Local photo ID: 342-C-K-5028
Original Caption: “Research and development test aircraft and crack test pilots of the Air Force Flight Test Center are marshalled on the sun baked surface of Rogers [Dry] Lake which has several hundred million dollars in emergency landings. The pilots are: (A) Maj. Charles Yeager, first man to fly faster than sound; (B) Maj. Harold Russell; (C) Col. Fred Ascani; (D) Brig. General Stanley Holtoner, Center Commander; (E) Lt. Jack Ridley; (F) Maj. Arthur Murray. The aircraft are: 1) Northrop X-4; 2) Convair XF-92A Delta; 3) North American T-28A; 4) Lockheed F-80; 5) Republic F-84F; 6) North American F-86D; 7) Northrop F-89; 8) Lockheed F-94C; 9) Boeing B-47; 10) North American B-45; 11) Boeing KC-97; 12) Convair B-36D.” Local photo ID: 342-C-K-6995
Original Caption: “Standing left to right alongside of a Bell XS-1 are: Capt. Charles E. Yeager, Major Gus Lundquist and Capt. James Fitzgerald.” Local photo ID: 342-C-K-5035
Original Caption: “Photograph of the X-1, the first manned aircraft to go faster than the speed of sound.” Control Number: NRHL-255-DRY1-X1PHOTOS-6 ( NAID 295650). From the National Archives at Riverside.
Official portrait of Brigadier General Charles E. Yeager. Local photo ID: 342-P-YEAGER(C)(OFF) ( NAID 542371)
Original Caption: “Col. Charles E. Yeager, Commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, Calif. Col. Yeager made aeronautical history on October 14, 1947, when he piloted the Bell X-1 aircraft in the world first supersonic flight.” Local photo ID: 342-B-12-220-168435 USAF ( NAID 175539641)
Original Caption: “Col. Charles E. Yeager, Commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, Calif., poses with a model of the North American X-15 high-speed, high-altitude research aircraft. He holds a photograph of the Bell X-1 aircraft in which he became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.” Local photo ID: 342-B-12-220-168434 USAF ( NAID 175539639)