Bell X-1, Chuck Yeager, and Salad

This is more “air and space” than “space” history, and it’s as much of a curiosity as anything, but 60 years ago today — May 12, 1950 — Chuck Yeager flew the first Bell X-1 rocket plane (serial number 46-062, or X-1-1) on its final flight.

(Bell X-1 in flight. USAF photo from NASA image collection.)

The aircraft, the first to be flown faster than the speed of sound, was retired and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it is on display at the National Air and Space Museum. If you’ve never been, you should go. (And the new Udvar-Hazy annex to the museum is very nice, too.)

Semi-related personal recollection to explain the title: I remember seeing General Yeager in the Officers Club at Edwards AFB when we were stationed there. I didn’t talk to him — what’s a brand-new second lieutenant non-pilot going to say to someone like that, especially standing next to him at the salad bar? But it seemed pretty cool at the time … and pretty okay even now.

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