View Full Version : The demon was slain 60 years ago today

October 14th, 2007, 09:13 AM
There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.

And the demon was slain 60 years ago today, on October 14, 1947.


October 17th, 2007, 07:39 PM
One of the most memorable scenes from the movie "The Right Stuff" has Chuck Yeager doing just that.

Makes you think just how courageous or reckless the man was to attempt it, considering many scientists believed planes would just collapse at such a speed.

October 17th, 2007, 08:51 PM
I'm a big fan of The Right Stuff in both -- very different -- versions. In the Movie, test pilots were portrayed as heroes, and the Mercury astronauts just a small step above them. In the Tom Wolfe's original book they were handled in exactly the opposite fashion.

What's really strange: both versions are correct. Strange, but true, and it's fun to see both of 'em.

Funny story: I once met Chuck Yeager at an Air Force pilot training graduation ceremony. He was kind enough to sign my copy of his autobiography, though he wasn't interested in talking to me about it. I remember him being somewhat standoffish, but of course I was a kid then so that probably doesn't mean anything. I still recall one bit of advice he gave the graduates, though, that's come in handy often.

"Whether you're in the cockpit or at a cocktail party, always know your egress systems. They'll save your life," he said.

Words to live by.