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Chuck Yeager, US Air Force officer who broke speed of sound, dies at 97

“America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever,” his wife said.
/ Source: NBC News

Chuck Yeager, a former U.S. Air Force officer who became the first pilot to break the speed of sound, died Monday. He was 97.

In a brief statement on Twitter, his wife, Victoria Yeager, said he died just before 9 p.m. ET.

“An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever,” she said.

Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager became the first test pilot to break the sound barrier as he flew the experimental Bell XS-1 (later X-1) rocket plane over Muroc Dry Lake in California.

NASA has said that Yeger nicknamed the plane "Glamourous Glenis" after his wife.

He became familiar to a younger generation 36 years later when the actor Sam Shepard portrayed him in the movie, "The Right Stuff," based on the Tom Wolfe book. The book and movie centered on the daring test pilots of the space program's early days.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Associated Press contributed.