Oct 14, 2012

This day in History Oct 14, 1947

Oct 14 1947 Chuck Yeager breaks sound barrier

**The Quest for Mach One is available online or probably at your public library** 

My Uncle Jack was part of that historical day. I only had one Uncle and one Aunt. My mom was an only child, and my dad had just one sister. She married a handsome young man Jack Russell in 1941. Uncle Jack and his brother with only their high school diploma's from Buffalo, NY's Burgard Vocational High School, started working for Bell Aircraft in Buffalo. Soon my Uncle was off to California to work on projects at Edwards Air Force Base. 

He later had my Aunt come out from Buffalo with 3 other wives, they drove from Buffalo, after getting as many gas ration coupons they could gather up for the trip out west.  My Aunt described the living conditions and the sparse desert area that would become their home as dismal and lonely, but she was determined to make the best of their lives and opportunities. They first lived in railroad Boxcars!! Then 3 couples eventually rented a 3 bedroom home.  My Uncle worked as part of the team that was working on then "secret" projects. He ended up at the young age of 26 being the Crew Chief for test pilot Chuck Yeager.  On that Oct 14th day - my uncle was on the B29 aircraft that launched the X1.
He had a tiny part in the movie The Right Stuff. In the first few minutes of the movie, where the character (actor Sam Shepard) that plays Chuck Yeager - hurts his ribs, his friend Jack Ridley needs to use a portion of a broom stick to fashion a handle that Chuck can use to close the hatch after climbing in the X1. My Uncle plays the janitor, Jack Ridley walks up to him and says Mr Russell can I borrow your broom. My Uncle didn't have any lines (that ended up in the movie), but he and Chuck Yeager were consultants on the movie set.
This is portion of the Right Stuff movie recreating Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier:

 My Aunt and Uncle met most of the "real" astronauts that trained at Edwards. Oh the stories my Aunt has in her memory banks of those years when Jack was working at Edwards for NASA.

The following Excerpt is quoted from this page
Yeager flies the X-1A
Chuck Yeager first flew the X-1A on November 21st 1953, the flight was perfect and Yeager flew on out to Mach 1.3 at 45,000 feet. The airplane flew beatifully and exactly like the X-1 and Yeager felt right at home.
Two more flights on December 2nd and December 8th produced speeds of Mach 1.5 & Mach 1.9. Yeager had told his crew chief, Jack Russell, "Hey, you sumbitch, if I get a fire warning light, I'm gonna strap you in my lap on the next ride and let you deal with it." Russell and the rest of his ground crew knew Chuck's neck was on the line and kept the rocket chambers so clean that they were germ-free!
Here's a >> link << to a photo of Jack in the Rocket Shop from 1956 from NASA's gallery

In later years, Jack and Chuck Yeager helped with the delivery and installation of the X1 in the Smithsonian Museum.  
My Uncle worked at Edwards Air Force Base, for many years and when he retired they gave him a portion of the engine of the X-15. 
In Buffalo NY, my Uncle was given the honor of being inducted into the Buffalo NY Air Museum Hall of Fame. http://wnyaerospace.org/

See too http://buffaloah.com/h/aero/bell/index.html

Uncle Jack passed away in 1996 - I really miss him. For only having one Uncle - I certainly had a most wonderful and interesting one.He and my Aunt were blessed with 2 wonderful sons, my only  2 cousins (they both live on the East Coast, my cousin John who was born on the same day as my sweet Paul, both in Buffalo, lives on Long Island, and my cousin Jim lives in Florida and he and his wife have 3 children). 
My Aunt who is now 93 still lives in the home they bought 45 yrs ago. On a trip to California with my sister Carol in 2008, she took us to the small town where the test pilots lived in the 1940's and she and my Uncle had  their first home nearby. The area Willow Springs is almost like a ghost town now, and the family that "owns the town" hopes someday to make it a tourist attraction or something along those lines. She told us stories that I only wish I had "taped" and/or kept a diary of. But I'm sure I'd have to keep them secret.  Those test pilots partied like Rock Stars!!

related youtube videos about breaking the sound barrier
Movie The Right Stuff excerpt
Congratulations to Felix Baumgartner on his Accomplishment today Oct 14, 2012  (65 yrs later) - of skydiving from an altitude of 24 miles above the earth - in his own quest to be the first "human being" to actually break the sound barrier in a free fall to the earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my blog! Thank You for your Feedback or Comments.