Writing

How Chuck Yeager Made My Day

When I was a kid, my family got our first computer: a Tandy 1000 from Radio Shack. The first game we bought for it was “Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer.” I spent hours flying planes in that game, and I hated it when I’d crash, and an 8-bit picture of Yeager would pop up with a disparaging quote, like “You just bought the farm, kid.”

General Chuck Yeager has been a hero of mine since those Tandy 1000 days. Sure, he’s best known for being the first person to break the sound barrier, but it was more than that. I wanted to be an Air Force test pilot just like him. The glasses that I get so many compliments on are also the reason I had to abandon that dream.

No matter: I became a writer, love my work, and I still wind up in airplanes on a regular basis now that Ed has his pilot’s license. And Chuck Yeager is still one of my heroes. So, in true fan girl style, I found his website and sent off an email to him. That’s right, at 33 years old, I wrote a fan letter.

And I heard back from Yeager himself. I had mentioned in my letter that I used to race motorcycles, and he said he raced flat track in his 20s, riding a Triumph Tiger. That was in 1946 and ’47, not long after World War II. Needless to say, getting a personal response from a childhood hero really made my day. I’ve always said the difference between a fan and a fan for life is when a hero/favorite athlete/etc. takes a minute or two to respond.

Thanks, General Yeager. I’m a fan for life.

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