R.I.P. Chuck Yeager

I’ll miss his laconic-toned Twitter feed. I loved when he would answer questions.

Yeager’s signature laconic tone is what so struck author Tom Wolfe, inspiring Wolfe to write The Right Stuff. There’s a whole chapter about what Yeager’s voice sounded like coming over the mic, describing whatever disastrous situation he was in with his plane to the folks back in the control room. How can one maintain a laconic tone when one is plummeting towards the surface of the earth? Or careening towards the stratosphere in a plane rattling apart at the hinges? No matter the crisis, Yeager’s voice over the mic was always the same. Cool. Calm. No-big-deal. This was not “fake it til you make it”, this was not “fight through the fear”, this was not an act, in other words. It was something else.

All people are created equal but we are NOT all the same and Yeager – and his ilk – were a different breed. Wolfe wanted to understand why.

Yeager had a huge influence on other pilots – and this is what Tom Wolfe set out to explore.

The journey of Yeager’s quest to be the first to break the sound barrier is told brilliantly in Wolfe’s book, but go check out all the great obits too for many more anecdotes shared and quotes from him and others.

It’s a heavy burden – to be a SYMBOL of something, like Yeager was – but his practical nature and natural-to-him laconic tone saved him from self-seriousness. He was just DIFFERENT. Wolfe was fascinated by that difference. So am I. I’ll miss knowing Yeager’s out there.

“I was just a lucky kid who caught the right ride.” — Chuck Yeager

See? There it is again. That Yeager tone. Wolfe heard it. He helped us hear it too.

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