End of the Line – Looking Like Can’t Break Sound Barrier

In General Yeager’s words:

Capt Chuck Yeager & X-1

        Captain Chuck Yeager & X-1

On our next flight, October 8, 1947; we got knocked on our fannies. I was flying at .94 MACH at 40,000 feet, experiencing the usual buffeting when I pulled back on the control wheel and Christ, nothing happened. The airplane continued flying with the same attitude and in the same direction.

The control wheel felt as though the cables had snapped. I didn’t know what in hell was happening. I turned off the engine and slowed down. I jettisoned the fuel and landed feeling certain I had taken my last ride in the X-1. Flying at .94, I had lost my pitch control. My elevator ceased to function. At the speed of sound, the ship’s nose was predicted to go either up or down, and without pitch control, I was in a helluva bind.

I told Ridley we had it. There was no way I was going beyond .94 Mach without an elevator.

He looked sick. So did Dick Frost and the whole NACA team. We called Col Boyd and he flew out immediately to confer with us. Meanwhile, NACA analyzed the telemetry data and found at .94 Mach a shockwave was slammed at the hinge point of the elevator of the tail, negating my controls. Col Boyd just shook his head. “Well,” he said, “it looks like we’ve reached the end of the line.” Everyone seemed to agree except Jack Ridley.


c. VSY