On October 14, 1947, Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in his Bell X-1, which he named Glamorous Glennis, in tribute to his wife. He reached a speed of 1,127 kilometers (700 miles) per hour, or Mach 1.06, at an altitude of 13,000 meters (43,000 feet).


Charles "Chuck" Yeager with Bell X-1.

Air-launched at an altitude of 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) from the bomb bay of a Boeing B-29, the X-1 used its rocket engine to climb to its test altitude. It flew a total of 78 times, and on March 26, 1948, with Yeager at the controls, it attained a speed of 1,540 kilometers (957 miles) per hour, Mach 1.45, at an altitude of 21,900 meters (71,900 feet). This was the highest velocity and altitude reached by a manned airplane up to that time.


Cockpit of the Bell X-1

The Glamorous Glennis was donated to the Museum in 1950, and has been suspended from the ceiling in the Milestones of Flight gallery since the building on the National Mall opened in 1976.


Related Topics Aviation Aircraft People Records and Firsts
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