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Chuck Yeager

Retired Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, being pushed by Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, waves to the crowd after a ceremony honoring him at a 2018 air show at Yeager Airport. Yeager, 97, died Monday night, according to a tweet posted on his Twitter account by his wife, Victoria. 

Chuck Yeager made an appearance an air show at Yeager Airport Sunday to celebrate the 71st Anniversary of when he broke the sound barrier.

Yeager, the West Virginia-born World War II ace fighter pilot, was the first to break the sound barrier, which is the point where a speeding object passes the speed of sound.

“When he got in that airplane he didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Ed Hill, chairman of the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority board.

Sunday was also the 33rd anniversary the airport being renamed to Yeager Airport to honor the pilot’s achievements.

One aviation feat Yeager is well known for is flying under the South Side Bridge a year after he broke the sound barrier. However, Yeager has long claimed this nothing more than a rumor. Sen. Joe Manchin was also in attendance at the recognition and spoke of the debated event.

“You all probably all heard the story and probably wondered if it was true. It’s official. He finally admits he did it,” Manchin said.

“I would not admit anything,” Yeager interjected. The audience laughed at the exchange.

In addition to honoring Yeager’s achievements, the air show also was a salute to veterans and first responders. Eight first responders were recognized for their service. Some were wounded in the line of duty and others had died. Each of their names and were read during the remarks.

Darren Johnson was recognized for his 26 years of service to the Emergency Management Services and 12 years of service to the KCEAA. He said he appreciated the thank you.

“Sometimes it’s a thankless job and it’s great to get a thank you,” Johnson said.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said they were “American heroes” and thanked them for their service. Johnson said he admired their bravery.

“It was a great honor, and hearing the stories of the fine police officers that put themselves in harm’s ways for our people,” Johnson said. “They are the best of the best.”

Reach Rebecca Carballo at rebecca.carballo@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @Becca_Carballo on Twitter.

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