I was really lucky to get an interview with General Chuck Yeager!
He's a very busy man and we weren't able to do an in-person interview, but he was kind enough to answer my questions through e-mail. He asked me to read his book, that way I wouldn't ask something that he already answered. The book "Yeager" was great! I loved the book and it was really fun to read. I highly recommend it!
Breaking the sound barrier was really cool and interesting but I was really interested in his WWII experiences. Did you know he'd been shot down over occupied France and spent almost a month escaping the Germans? And then he was the only "evadee" to get back into combat?
So anyway, here's my e-mail interview with General Chuck Yeager!
Was your mom and dad okay with you flying?
Didn't know at first.
Did you ever take them up? Did they like it?
Took Mom up in a BT-13 - her only comment was when we were taking off-
Do you HAVE to fly over that cemetery (At the end of the runway). Flew
Dad a few times in the B-25 to Edwards and back.
Did the P-39 deserve the reputation it got?
WHAT REPUTATION? ITS ALLISON ENGINE SINGLE STAGE BLOWER NOT GOOD AT ALTITUDE BUT IT WAS AN OUTSTANDING TANK BUSTER - EXCELLENT FOR WHAT IT WAS DESIGNED FOR.
If development of the P-39/P-63 continued, do you think it would have been competitive with the P-51?
NO SEE ABOVE.
I want to make a P-39Q model with my dad like the one you flew. What were the numbers on your P-39?
NO IDEA - FLEW DOZENS OF THEM
I know you started out with some airsickness but when did you fall in love with flying? NEVER DID. IT WAS A JOB
Was there something special that happened?
Was it flying the P-39 that set the hook?
Could you tell me about your first solo? What kind of plane was it in? Were you scared? Were you anxious?
PT-21 NO. NO.
Your first bail-out was October 23, 1943 when your P-39 exploded. How did it blow up? IMPELLER LET GO AND IT BLEW UP.
In a World War Two dogfight, would your first choice be a P-51 to fly in?
Did you like the P-47?
NO NEVER FLEW IN COMBAT- TOO HEAVY.
How would you compare the other U.S. fighters in a dogfight? ALL INFERIOR
What happened to Mack McKee after he was shot down and lost an arm?
POW, REPATRIATED, LIVED A NORMAL LIFE AS FAR AS I KNOW
Is it fair to say you fought the "evadee" rule so hard because you loved to dogfight so much? ANSWERED IN THE BOOK. (NO).
How do you feel about Eddie Simpson getting credit for the Ju-88 that you shot down over the North Sea?
IN THE BOOK. NO FEELING - HE GOT SHOT DOWN AND DIED SO WASTED IT.
The last week of November 1944, you became a double ace by shooting down 4 planes. Then you play dogfight with Bud Anderson! You don't say too much in your book about that day except for "dogfighting" with Andy and him leading you guys over the Frisian Islands. Can you tell me about those four victories?
IN THE BOOK. WE DID NOT "PLAY" DOGFIGHT.
Bud Anderson liked tracers and having his guns converge - did
you? Or did you like them to make a box?
NO CHOICE SO FINE.
How did you like being with the Maquis and being a saboteur?
IT WAS NECESSARY. DUTY.
That was very brave of you to save Pat after his leg was shot off. Did you ever see him again? What happened to him after the war?
NO. NO IDEA.
Is it fair to say that you enjoy most flying an airplane to its ragged edge of the envelope? NO.
On January 15, 1945, your last mission, you went sight-seeing with Bud Anderson. You didn't go back to base or hunt for Germans but instead went joyriding. Why?
IN THE BOOK.
When was the first time you encountered "compressibility"? Did you ever get it in a dive in a Mustang?
YES. .82 MACH
What other captured planes did you fly besides the Me-262 and the MIG-15?
ALL OF THEM
Any you particularly liked?
In the book Chuck Yeager: The Man Who Broke The Sound Barrier , They said you were employed by the Northrop Corporation and you got to fly the F-20 Tigershark. How did it go? EXCELLENT AIRCRAFT. AIR FORCE NEVER BOUGHT IT.
Early G-Suits - they didn't inflate? THEY DID. Were they tight like that all the time?
Did they give you a big edge against the Germans?
Did the Germans have G-suits?
In your X-1's first powered flight you deviated from your flight and had some fun! Was the X-1 a kick in the pants to fly?
NO. AIRPLANE IS GOOD OR IT ISN'T.
On your 9th powered flight in the X-1 you broke the sound barrier but didn't know it at the time.
The plane just suddenly flew smoothly. Did you fell a bit of a let down after all the build up about breaking the sound barrier?
Scott Crossfield and Neil Armstrong wouldn't take your advice. Scotty ran a Super Saber through a wall and Neil got stuck in the mud. Why would a military pilot want to know everything about a plane but these guys didn't?
10,000 hours of stick time in logbooks - How big a pile of log books is that?
DEPENDS - IF IT'S A BIG BOOK, IT'S A PILE OF ONE. THE AIR FORCE HAS MOST OF THE FLIGHT LOGS
When your Beechcraft was destroyed in Bangladesh, did you ever get paid for it?
AIR FORCE OWNED IT
Did you ever fly the Sr-71 Blackbird?
YES. LAST FLIGHT WAS 1983
If you had the chance, would you go for a shuttle flight into space?
NOT PARTICULARLY, BUT IF I COULD FLY THE SHUTTLE AND LAND IT I MIGHT
CONSIDER IT. IT'S ALL A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY RIGHT NOW.
Have you ever wished you'd been an astronaut?
At night, when I dream of flying, I dream I'm in a P-51 chasing Germans. Do you have flying dreams? What kinds of planes are you flying in your dreams?
So that was was my interview with General Chuck Yeager! Thanks again to General Yeager for doing the interview with me.
I finally got to meet General Yeager at the 2009 Beale AFB air Show and Open House. General Otto introduced me!
PS Check out his website!