GRASS VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — World War II flying ace Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier, has died at 97.

His wife Victoria Yeager said on his Twitter account that Yeager died Monday.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has called the death “a tremendous loss to our nation.”

 

The retired Air Force brigadier general became the fastest human in 1947 when he piloted the experimental X-1 rocket plane past 660 mph. It was the first time anyone flew faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager was a World War II fighter pilot who shot down 13 German planes. He was shot down over German-held France and escaped with the help of French partisans.

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