Yeager: An Autobiography

Every now and then, all I want to do is binge read biographies and other nonfiction books relating to space and flight. While not quite an astronaut, the autobiography of Chuck Yeager fit the bill enough to get me excited.

Yeager is most well-known for being the first man to break the sound-barrier (though to be honest, I don’t know if that’s really common knowledge anymore). But his story began quite some time before his flight in the X-1. Yeager got his start as a pilot during World War II, where he quickly became an Ace, even after being shot down himself and having to escape through France into Spain. After World War II, Yeager became a test pilot at what would become Edwards Air Force Base in California, where he eventually became the pilot to break the sound barrier. He would go on to serve overseas in Germany, Vietnam, and Korea.

Told in his own words and including sections from his wife and close friends, Yeager’s autobiography is a wild ride, showing the kind of unique dangers that come with the job, as well as a snapshot into the mind of a pilot who loves flying more than anything else.

Co-written by Leo Janos (I’m guessing compiled and/or edited), I think I can hear Yeager’s voice throughout the book, despite obviously not knowing the man. It’s written in such a way that you can just imagine sitting at the bar with him, being regaled with hair-raising stories of war, close calls, and dumb choices. It reads much like John Glenn’s biography, only a little more wild.

If you love history, flying, and/or biographies, it’s worth the read. And while you may not want you loved ones taking too much after Yeager, he does have some nuggets of wisdom to share with the next generation.

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