Yeager was born into a poor family in West Virginia and joined the the army in 1939, serving as an aircraft mechanic. He was selected for flight training in 1942 and soon showed outstanding natural talent as a flyer. Posted to the United Kingdom in 1944, Yeager flew Mustangs in combat, gaining one victory before he was himself shot down over France. He escaped to Spain without being captured and was soon flying with the 363rd Fighter Squadron once more—despite a strict policy that no escaped pilot should fly over enemy territory again.
Yeagar demonstrated outstanding eyesight, flying skills, and combat leadership potential; he distinguished himself by becoming the first American pilot to make "ace in a day"̬he shot down no less than five enemy aircraft in one mission, finishing the war with 12.5 recognised victories.
Yeager remained in the air force after the war, becoming a test pilot and eventually being selected to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight. Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14 1947, flying the experimental X-1] at an altitude of 45,000 feet. Yeager's X-1, which like all of the aircraft assigned to him he named Glamorous Glennis after his wife, is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air And Space Museum.
Yeager later went on to break many other records for speed and altitude. He remained in the Air Force through the Vietnam War era. He never attended college and often was modest about his background but is considered to be one of the great pilots of all time.