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My Hero!

I was watching a documentary last night--passive learning Eddie Izzard calls it; I dont know much about sharks. I know if you kiss them on the nose, it disarms them. Anyway, I was watching a documentary about Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

He was an engineer of epic proportions annnnnd I'll bet you've never heard of him. He built tunnels and bridges and railways and massive cargo ships. He built the first tunnel under a river and the first propeller-driven ocean-going iron ship. He also created something called an atmospheric railway in which trains run on air, but rats eating leather or something like that thwarted the whole system. (Sounds like a death metal band. Put your hands together and make some noise for RATS EATING LEATHER!!)

He smoked 40 cigars a day. He slept four hours a night. He could draw a perfect circle and the screw propeller he designed and built was found to be only five percent less efficient than a computer-designed model.

As far as heroes go, he's one of them. But the man that really has my heart in Chuck Yeager.

I'm a little upset that my friend Amanda, by all accounts a very bright and well-educated college graduate, had no clue why Chuck Yeager is famous. Never even heard of him!!

We were talking about heroes and idols of our adolescence. My friend Kim identified and idolized with Raggedy Ann, and no, I don't know why. Amanda was contemplating a childhood hero when I fessed up that my hero was Chuck Yeager. I smiled, waiting for some sign of recognition and I was greeted with blank stares.

So, allow me to school you...Chuck Yeager is an aviation god. As an Air Force test pilot, he was the first man to break the sound barrier. He flew the Bell X-1, which he dubbed "Glamorous Glennis" after his wife. (A woman I am insanely jealous of...)

October 14, 1947, he flew Mach 1 at about 45,000 feet. He almost got scrubbed from the flight because two days before the flight he broke some ribs while horseback riding. To keep it 'hush-hush' he was treated by the local veterinarian. He was in so much pain the day of the flight he had to use a broom handle to seal the aircraft's hatch.

He was the first to fly a MIG 15 (the original pilot had defected from his native South Korea.) Before any of the above however, he was famous for being the first American pilot to attain the title "ace in a day" as he had shot down 5 enemy planes in one mission. Later on in the war, he even won a dogfight with a German jet fighter!!

Go rent "The Right Stuff."

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  • Blogger KenInfinite says so:
    January 28, 2007 at 10:26 AM  

    You might also be interested in the guy that Yeager called the best pilot he'd ever known. That is Bob Hoover who turned 85-years-young on the 24th of this month. top