“Listen, if this plane probably won’t explode in the air, why the hell do you want me to fly it?”
America is a land of advancement through the idiotic risks of others. If someone hadn’t ignored “conventional wisdom” and eaten tomatoes when they thought it was poisonous, where would we get our pizza sauce from? If Neil Armstrong had been worried about the very real threat of Carnivorous Moon People, we wouldn’t have the most famous example of someone fucking up a prepared speech in the history of the world (seriously, “one small step for A man,” get it right.) If Sam Adams hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to make a bunch of people throw tea in a harbor, we wouldn’t know what to call his beer. Dumb decisions always work out for you if you’re an American, but someone has to have the parachute-sized sack to go out and make those dumb decisions. One of those men is renowned testicular giants was Chuck Yeager, test pilot.
That smile means he just shot down a German fighter
Charles Elwood Yeager was born in 1923 to a farming family in West Virginia. While many great Americans were born clutching onto an oversized American flag, not all Americans were born in freefall while their mother was becoming the first woman to successfully parachute out of an airplane. Yeager looked around, only confused for a moment, before getting his bearings and tying his umbilical cord to the flag to make a makeshift parachute. When he landed, his father rushed to the child, picked him up, and said, “Well son, that was impressive. I am going to call you Chuck. Now go chuck some wood.” Baby Yeager then spent the rest of the day chopping wood for the house.
Yeager spent his childhood working on the farm, while his father, a natural gas driller, would take him around to teach him the basics of mechanics, and also how to make bombs, because why the fuck not. No, seriously. It was from these humble roots that Chuck Yeager first went to Germany in the 1930’s. Having heard about the rising of Nazism, a teenaged Yeager had decided he wanted to go overseas to kick Hitler, like, just square in the balls. Which he did in 1937. The kick was so forceful that the sides of Hitler’s once full, rich mustache fell off, and was never able to regrow. Most historians speculate that this was a contributing factor to Hitler’s inability to sire an heir. On the way out, Yeager planted homemade explosives, destroying dozens of Nazi air strips. When seen in an aerial view, the flames of these explosions spelled out, “Chuck Yeager Was Here, Cocksuckers.”
Yeager never had the chance to go to college, as there was no degree available in Insanity at the time, so he joined the Air Force as a Mechanic in 1941. After the war started, Yeager began to write, “Chuck Yeager has touched this plane” on each one of the planes he repaired. The reported instances of mid-air German surrenders skyrocketed by 12,000%.
Eventually, the Allied forces realized that they had a fully loaded Chuck Yeager just rusting away in the garage, so he was transferred to the flight training. Yeager had 20/10 vision and steady nerves that allowed for him to once shoot a deer from 600 feet away. Seriously. After his first victory, he was shot down over France. Many wonder how this was physically possible, since it is widely acknowledged that Chuck Yeager doesn’t even need a plane to fly, he just uses one because the guns are more powerful than his sidearm. The most common theory is, hearing that his nemesis was in the air over France, a much-higher-voice-than-he-had-before-1937 Adolph Hitler switched from Bullets to elephant tranquilizers on all of his planes in the area. Hitler’s hope was, knowing that bullets would simply upset the pilot, that an errant dart would hit Yeager during the dogfight, causing him to pass out and crash the plane. This theory still has its holes, since medical science tells us that it takes at least three elephant tranquilizer darts to make Yeager take a nap.
Either way, despite this mystery, Yeager survived his plane crash, as his fall was cushioned by an extraordinary amount of being Chuck Yeager. He lackadaisically wandered over to the nearest French Resistance group, who dropped to their knees in reverence as soon as he entered. Yeager was surprised to find portraits of himself hanging around the room, and they glowingly referred to him as, “Le Boutteur Aine d’Hitler,” or, “The Hitler Groin Kicker.” He built some explosives for the resistance (seriously) just for old time’s sake, and went on his way to escape into Spain with some fellow airmen. While attempting to cross the Pyrenees, he and a fellow airmen were ambushed. Once the Germans had emptied their clips, Yeager laughed about how “that tickled,” before looking over to see that his fellow airman had been shot, and had lost part of his leg. Saying, “Oh dude, I forgot that I’m the only person who bullets affect like that,” he picked up the airman and carried him over the goddamn mountains. Seriously. He won the Bronze Star for these efforts.
Despite a regulation saying that fighters who had been shot down over enemy territory were not allowed to go back in the air, in order to preserve the identities of the Resistance fighters who helped them, the Air Force said, “Fuck it, let’s put Yeager out there again,” knowing that this was their best chance to win the war in the sky. Yeager became one of the first Allied pilots to become “An Ace in a day,” by recording five kills in one fight. Of these five kills, only three required bullets, he simply started flying towards the last two, who freaked the shit out and crashed into each other like that jittery TIE fighter in the first Star Wars movie. Seriously. He ended the war with 11.5 kills, including being the first American to shoot down a Jet-powered fighter.
While Dogfighting with enemy aircraft with the intent to kill in a war setting was all well and good for Yeager, who during the course of the war had earned the nickname, “Are you fucking serious, no one gives Yeager a nickname, he’s just Yeager, or sir,” had always felt that something was missing. He knew that he could make an enemy plane crash just by flying towards them, but he also always knew that the plane would fly. His plane only crashed once in 61 missions, a number that told him that flying in wartime was way too easy. He needed to find the most efficient way to piss on the grave of his notion of self preservation.
Being a test pilot was the answer. Why fly in a regular old plane that you know works, and doesn’t crash for no reason, when you can fly in untested jets with the engineers crossing their fingers going, “please don’t blow up, pleaaasseeee don’t blow up…”? You might retort, “Because life is a precious thing, and we should preserve it and relish it,” but you’d only get halfway through the “Becau….” Before Chuck Yeager would magically appear and start bitch slapping you for the next twenty minutes.
It was over the course of flying in these games of chicken against God that Yeager was assigned to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1, in an attempt to be the first man to break the sound barrier. At a time when modern science assumed that traveling at such speeds would either liquefy your organs or turn you into some sort of demonic warlock. Science was lagging a bit in the 40s. Two days before he was set to fly, Yeager was riding a horse, finding cars boring because they were not capable of thinking, “I’m gonna chuck this fucker off my back.” During the course of his ride, the horse had the thought, “I’m gonna chuck this fucker off my back,” and sure enough, Chuck Yeager was hurled to the ground, where he broke two ribs (presumably after the horse stomped on them for several hours). Fearing that he would be pulled from the flight, Chuck Yeager went to a goddamn Veterinarian to get himself treated in a move that would be mimicked by misunderstood heroes injured in their run from the law in countless action films in the future. Fucking. Seriously. Yeager was in such pain, he was unable to seal the hatch himself. Saying, “fuck it,” he put a broom handle in it, and then beat the hell out of Mach 1.
In 1953, his airspeed record was beaten by Scott Crossfield, who became the first man to surpass Mach 2. As the military prepared a celebration of the 50th anniversary of flight, ready to name Crossfield the “fastest man alive,” Yeager was quoted as saying, “Awww HELL NAW!” His 2.44 Mach flight crushed the record, and Crossfield had to hang his head in resignation and settle for being an astronaut.
Inferiority to Chuck Yeager is the reason why 95% of astronauts decide to go into space.
Yeager last flew faster than the sound barrier in his 70’s, in 1997, probably just so he could make eardrums bleed one last awesome time. He lives now in California with his wife who is 36 years younger than him, and who was an Actress in the film Witness. No, not the hot Amish chick with the nude scene. She was, like…a detective. And fine, she’s not the hottest chick in that either, and yes, that came out 15 years before he met her.
But still! 36 years! America! So if you hear a deafening boom over your heads, as you cover your ears and for the pain to stop, take a moment of solace in knowing that, at least Chuck Yeager just flew over you, instead of kicking you in the balls.
And, according to Tom Wolfe, he’s the reason all commercial pilots speak with a Southern drawl–they’re trying to sound like Yeager!
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