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EAA Mourns Death of Gen. Chuck Yeager
December 8, 2020 – EAA is mourning the death of Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, one of America's preeminent aviators who also supported EAA in a variety of ways over a 30-year period. Yeager died Monday evening in California at age 97.
Gen. Yeager, EAA Lifetime 258188, was best known as the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound when he flew the Bell X-1 at Mach 1 in October 1947. He also had a decorated military career as an Army Air Forces ace in World War II and flew combat missions in the Korean and Vietnam Wars prior to retiring from the military in 1975.
To EAA members, however, Yeager's influence was most noticeable in two areas: As the second chairman of EAA's Young Eagles program for a decade, and for his regular appearances at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh over a 30-year period.
"Chuck Yeager's aviation accomplishments are well documented and legendary," said Jack J. Pelton, EAA's CEO and Chairman of the Board. "His personal support of EAA and its programs helped take them to new levels, and thousands of people had the opportunity to meet and hear him when he was at Oshkosh. We will remember Gen. Yeager for those generous commitments of his time to EAA, along with his immortal aviation achievements."
Yeager became the second chairman of the Young Eagles program in 1994, succeeding the late Cliff Robertson. Yeager was an active chairman, regularly flying Young Eagles including at Oshkosh. He also used his visibility to promote Young Eagles and youth involvement in aviation. He personally flew more than 250 Young Eagles during his time as the program's chairman. He also flew the 1 millionth Young Eagle, Illinois resident Andrew Grant, on an honorary flight in early 2004 as a tribute to the volunteers who reached the goal of flying 1 million Young Eagles by the centennial of powered flight commemorated at EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk program in North Carolina in December 2003. In September 2004, Yeager turned the chairman reins over to actor and pilot Harrison Ford.
Yeager was also a frequent visitor and presenter at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, both at Theater in the Woods and in the Warbirds area. One notable presentation was a reunion with his 357th Fighter Group at the 1992 EAA fly-in convention that included Yeager and follow WWII ace Bud Anderson. At Oshkosh he also had the regular opportunity to reunite with his wingman from the 1947 supersonic flight, legendary pilot Bob Hoover.
EAA recognized Yeager's commitment to the organization by presenting him with EAA's highest honor, the Freedom of Flight Award, in 1995.
"Much will be spoken and written of Gen. Yeager's aviation exploits in honor of his passing, and deservedly so," Pelton said. "To us, he was all of that, but we will also remember him as a fellow EAA member who gave greatly of his time and talent to encourage and promote aviation, and motivate his fellow EAA members to join him as well."