American hero, Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager has died. He was 97.

We are saddened to learn that Pancho’s pal, Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager passed away on Monday December 7, 2020. His wife, Victoria Yeager, announced on her husband’s Twitter account: “It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET. An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever.”

Chuck Yeager was a WWII ace fighter pilot and became the world’s best known test pilot by demonstrating that he had the “right stuff” when he became the first person to fly faster than sound. It was on Oct. 14, 1947 when the then 24-year-old captain pushed his orange bullet-shaped Bell X-1 rocket plane past 660 mph to break the sound barrier.

Yeager’s death is “a tremendous loss to our nation,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

“Gen. Yeager’s pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America’s abilities in the sky and set our nation’s dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age,” Bridenstine said in his statement.

“In an age of media-made heroes, he is the real deal,” Edwards Air Force Base historian Jim Young said in August 2006 at the unveiling of a bronze statue of Yeager.

He was “the most righteous of all those with the right stuff,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards.

Our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Yeager and the family.

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Dr. Louis F. D'Elia is the custodian of the Estate of Pancho Barnes and a Trustee of the Flight Test Museum Foundation at Edwards Air Force Base.