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Yeager re-enacts historic sound barrier flight

Oct. 14, 2012 - 05:18PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 14, 2012 - 05:18PM  |  
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Yeager straps into an F-15D for a re-enactment flight commemorating his breaking of the sound barrier 65 years ago on Oct. 14 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Yeager straps into an F-15D for a re-enactment flight commemorating his breaking of the sound barrier 65 years ago on Oct. 14 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (Isaac Brekken / The Associated Press)
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NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Sixty-five years after becoming the first human to fly faster than the speed of sound, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager is still making noise.

The 89-year-old Yeager, who was featured in the movie "The Right Stuff," flew in the back seat Sunday of an F-15 Eagle as it broke the sound barrier at more than 30,000 feet above California's Mojave Desert — the same area where he first achieved the feat in 1947 while flying an experimental rocket plane.

The F-15 carrying Yeager took off from Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas and broke the sound barrier at 10:24 a.m. Sunday, exactly 65 years to the minute the then-Air Force test pilot made history.

It also happened on the same day that daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner shattered the sound barrier after making the highest jump ever from a balloon 128,100 feet above the Earth.

Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, and became the first man to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft. He landed safely in the New Mexico desert after a descent of just more than nine minutes.

Yeager told reporters after his flight that he was unaware of the skydiver's feat.

Asked by a young girl if he was scared during Sunday's flight, Yeager joked, "Yeah, I was scared to death." But the legendary pilot said he continues to fly all the time and it was just another flight to him.

Yeager flew the F-15 as it took off and landed, said Airman Timothy Young, a Nellis spokesman. The plane was piloted by Capt. David Vincent of the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis.

"It was a great honor to have him fly out of Nellis," Young said. "We pride ourselves on training fighter pilots, and to have someone of his caliber here is such an honor."

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