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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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    John Davison says:

    Yep! When I worked with Bill King at the old Speedvision.com news bureau in Charlotte, on Bill’s birthday the phone rang and the voice said: “is Bill King in, this is Chuck Yeager.”
    After stammering a bit, I got Bill on the phone. Turned out they met when King was with Goodyear and Yeager was Grand Marshal at the Indy 500. Since Bill is an Air Force veteran, they formed a friendship that has lasted since then.
    Yeager was reading street signs from farther away than King could see them. He parked the pace car with the tires ‘right side up’ for photos, without having to jack up the car and reposition them.
    We’ve both been lucky at the people we’ve met over the years and the stories we’ve heard, haven’t we?

  2. Beth Dolgner

    What a cool story, John! I was amazed at the stuff he wrote about his eyesight in his autobiography. 20/10 vision.

    Speedvision.com….gosh, that was back in the day, huh? “The Johns!”

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