Chuck Yeager’s Wild Week on Twitter

The 93-year-old sound-barrier-breaker and aviation legend tamed the sky. Now he’s ruling Twitter.

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager poses in cockpit of the Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis" on October 14, 1997—the 50th anniversary of his historic piercing of the sound barrier. (Mark Avino / NASM 97-16800)
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Twitter is many things, most of them frivolous. For one, it’s a place for small men to feel big. So what happens when an actual giant shows up? A legitimate American hero whose stuff is, famously, Right. Whose courage and integrity are beyond question. Whose energy and razor wit belie his 93 years on Earth.

Does a place so low even register the presence of a man so high? Or does it collapse around him like so many sound waves shredded by the nose cone of “Glamorous Glennis,” the Bell X-1 with which he flew into history?

This is not a rhetorical question. It can be answered, and answered correctly.

General Yeager has been on Twitter for several years, but lately he seems to be exploring the form with renewed vigor. Interacting with admirers (and also with people who regularly inquire after his membership status in the “Mile High Club”) he issued more than 100 Tweets on August 22 alone. In his defense, it was a Monday, traditionally the week’s least exciting day. 

If his 1986 autobiograpy (with Leo Janos), Yeager—a book he frequently recommends—is as difficult to stop reading as his Twitter feed, many readers might finish its 448 pages in a single sitting.

Like many famous figures, he indulges his audience’s innuendo—up to a point.

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Yesterday he (sort of) dissed Top Gun and (sort of) defended Tom Cruise in the space of a few minutes.

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He teased the British. Or at least, the mid-20th-century British.

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He counted his native patois, West Virginian, as a language.

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He expressed a low opinion of Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, the Congressional Medal of Honor and Navy Cross recipient who recounted his experiences in a 1959 memoir, Baa Baa Black Sheep, which was adapted into a TV series in the 1970s.

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This is not a man who wastes his time trading in hypotheticals.

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Well, he is willing to entertain some hypotheticals.

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He demonstrated his disinterest in “make believe,” while confessing he likes Westerns and Dirty Harry movies.

He made clear he’s neither a Star Wars fan nor a Star Trek fan. And dammit, Jim, he’s a pilot, not a...

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He was unambiguous in his advocacy of the venerable country and gospel quartet, the Oak Ridge Boys.

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And in the truly timeless rivalries, we all know what side he’s on.

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