Look Around Chuck Yeager’s Cockpit

A 360-degree view inside the airplane that broke the sound barrier.

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n the morning of October 14, 1947, U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager made humankind’s first supersonic flight in the bullet-shaped Bell X-1 aircraft he nicknamed Glamorous Glennis, after his wife.

That aircraft now hangs in the Boeing Milestones of Flight hall in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

This 360-degree VR view is part of a series of aircraft cockpits photographed for the Museum by Dennis Biela of LightSpeed Media. Click and drag anywhere inside the frame to “look around” inside the cockpit.  To see it full-screen, click the symbol in the lower right corner of the frame.

Things to note as you explore the X-1 cockpit:

  • The distinct H-shaped yoke determined both roll and pitch. Airspeed was controlled by the number of rocket chambers—up to four—fired by the silver thumb-switch to the left of the yoke; there was no throttle.
  • The Mach indicator above goes to Mach 1.5; it was most likely installed after Yeager’s first transonic flight. It’s flanked by a conventional altimeter and airspeed indicator. The fastest Glamorous Glennis ever flew was Mach 1.45.
  • Yeager signed his name in the cockpit of Glamorous Glennis on many occasions over the decades. (He piloted 33 of the aircraft’s 78 career test flights, including its last, on May 12, 1950.) Can you find all his signatures?


 

By 1953, six years after the Bell X-1 first went supersonic, that airplane and others were routinely flying at more than twice the speed of sound. On December 17, 1953—the 50th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight at Kitty Hawk—Major Yeager sat down at the Pentagon for an informal press briefing to discuss his own Mach 2.43 flight in the X-1 five days earlier. Video: Department of Defense, Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration
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