Glamorous Glennis’s Big Flight And The Race To Hit Mach 1

Samantha Henman

After WWII, the US Army Air Forces realized they had a surplus of two things: fantastic equipment and even better pilots. Chief among those pilots was Chuck Yeager, whose incredible journey from small-town West Virginia to helping resistance fighters in the Pyrenees eventually brought him to the Aeronautical Systems Flight Test Division—where he made his biggest splash yet.


Some Guys Have All The Luck

Chuck Yeager never would’ve become a legend without Glamorous Glennis. Who is she? Well, according to Chuck, she was his good luck charm. Yeager met and fell in love with Glennis Dickhouse before any of this happened. After that, he named any aircraft he flew Glamorous Glennis. He was probably onto something about her being good luck…

Captain Chuck Yeager sitting in Bell X-1 cockpit.

Chuck Yeager enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces just a few months after turning 18. He was too young and didn’t have the right background for flight training, but he had two things on his side. He possessed incredible 20/10 eyesight…and good timing. When the US entered WWII, they were suddenly in need of pilots—and Yeager was right there.

Proving Ground

Yeager was a seriously talented pilot—but he was also good on the ground. When Axis forces shot him down during his eighth mission, he made a daring escape to Spain thanks to the help of some French resistance fighters. He paid them back by aiding them in the construction of bombs and helping one of their navigators cross the Pyrenees.

“Glamorous Glen III,” Chuck Yeager’s P-51D during World War II.

The USAAF’s rules stated that anyone who’d gone down over enemy territory couldn’t go back in. Yeager wasn’t going to accept that. He confronted General Dwight D. Eisenhower himself and convinced the man to let him go back to his squadron. Ultimately, Yeager flew 61 missions during the war and won scores of awards. Still, he wasn’t done making history.

Need For Speed

With everything he’d done in WWII under his belt—plus his vast experience flying and maintaining aircraft—Yeager was eligible to become a test pilot. Once again, Yeager had good timing. He was in the right place at the right time, as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was working on a program with a lofty and difficult goal. They wanted to break the sound barrier.

They already had the aircraft, the rocket engine-powered Bell XS-1, but they didn’t have a pilot. Another test pilot who realized how dangerous and potentially impossible the mission was demanded $150,000 (about $1.7 million today) to do it. As a result, the USAF took over and proposed that Chuck Yeager be the one to complete the task.

Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Him Away

Chuck Yeager, Gus Lundquist, and Jim Fitzgerald wearing a flight suit, standing next to the Bell XS-1 rocket research airplane “Glamorous Glennis.”

The task was perilous enough that death was a very real possibility. Despite the danger, Yeager was up for the task—however, a freak accident nearly ended the experiment before it even began. Just two nights out from the big test, Yeager was riding horses with his wife, the famous good-luck charm Glennis, when he fell and broke two ribs.

Yeager knew that the USAF would take him off the mission if they found out what had happened, so he swore his wife and doctor to secrecy, and only told one other pilot, Jack Ridley, about it. It’s a good thing he did, too, because when the time came to get in that aircraft, Yeager immediately ran into a problem. The pain from his cracked ribs prevented him from being able to seal the aircraft’s hatch. Ridley saw him having trouble and used a broom handle to help get the hatch closed. And then, it was time for takeoff.

Glamorous Glennis Takes Flight

On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager took off in the Bell XS-1 that he’d renamed Glamorous Glennis. While Yeager flew over the Mojave Desert at 45,000 feet, he hit Mach 1.05—becoming the first pilot to break the sound barrier. It was a massive achievement, but Yeager didn’t stop there. In the years following, he broke scores of other aviation records and even defended his title by setting a record speed of Mach 2.44 shortly after another pilot had reached twice the speed of sound. He also stuck with his good luck charm, the famous Glennis. They remained married for 66 years, until her death in 2011.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
The Truth Always Comes Out: Dark Family Secrets Exposed The Truth Always Comes Out: Dark Family Secrets Exposed
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
These People Got Genius Revenges These People Got Genius Revenges
Factinate Featured Logo Featured Article
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife


Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team