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Yeager To Retire From Military Flying After October Airshow

Aviation legend retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager waves to the crowd after an F-15 flight during one of his recent visits to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
by Leigh Anne Bierstine
Edwards AFB - Aug 19, 2002
Aviation legend retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager visited Edwards Aug. 12 and 13 to chat with airmen around the base and to prepare for his opening flight at the Edwards 2002 Open House and Air Show Oct. 26.

This September, Yeager will have been flying military aircraft for more than 60 years. During his most recent visit, Yeager said there was no better way to mark the occasion than by kicking off this year's open house in an F-15 Eagle along with his long-time friend and colleague retired Maj. Gen. Joe Engle.

"It's very unusual that we can still do the opening together," said Yeager. "But the Air Force and the Flight Test Center have given us the opportunity and we are taking advantage of it."

Reflecting on his 60 years of flying, Yeager said he has been "very, very lucky" in being afforded the opportunity to fly military aircraft for six decades. After retiring from the Air Force with more than 34 years of service, including in World War II and Vietnam, he continued flying as a consultant test pilot here, logging time in the F-15 and the F-16 Falcon as well as other aircraft.

However, it appears Yeager's time flying military aircraft may be coming to a close after his approaching open house mission.

"I have decided that during the open house and airshow I'll make a sonic boom in the F-15, but sixty years is long enough for me to be flying military airplanes," Yeager said.

The retired general is quick to point out that he is not giving up flying all together. He plans to continue flying P-51 Mustangs and various light aircraft.

Yeager said this year's open house is especially important in light of last year's tragic events and feels the public is ready to once again see what the Air Force has to offer.

"People always love to come out to Edwards because they can see some very exotic airplanes," he said. "It's good to see people bring their kids, and there is nowhere in the world can you hear a sonic boom like they will hear here."

Maj. Gen. Doug Pearson, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, said there is no doubt that the flight test legend will be a great crowd pleaser this October.

"He ties our past with our future," Pearson said. "General Yeager is such a piece of our heritage here at Edwards, but yet he is so much into our future and very much in touch with what we are doing here today."

Pearson said that the entire base is pulling together to ensure a successful air show for all those heading to Edwards in October.

"We are looking forward to showing the public our current state-of-the-art military capabilities," he said. "That is really what this airshow is all about."

Fans of the flight test legend can look for him to return to Edwards for the official opening of the Open House and Air Show in October.

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After attending a space-based training course, six Air Force engineers are moving the Air Force toward a true aerospace force. The four-week Aerospace Vehicle Test Course wrapped up Nov. 2 at U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards. Now in its second year, the course is designed to prepare space testers for an increasing number of programs using trans-atmospheric vehicles, space-based assets and sensor-to-shooter systems, said Maj. Kelly Greene, AVTC course director.

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