Breaking ribs and the sound barrier

In 1947, 2 years after World War 2 had ended, technology had advanced so rapidly that breaking the sound barrier with a jet seemed within reach. Many American test pilots were highly motivated to be the first.

When WW2 veteran Chuck Yeager was selected to test flight the Bell XS-1 plane, he was extremely excited. However, 2 days before the flight he fell off his horse and broke 2 ribs. Afraid he’d be pulled from the mission, he only told his wife and his best friend. When the day came, Yeager was at first unable to close the hatch of his plane due to being in pain. He still managed to do so with a broom stick. And so, on that Oct 14, 1947 the injured Yeager broke the sound barrier reaching Mach 1.07 above the Mojave Desert.

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By US Air Force (US Air Force) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons