Craft – Framed Vacation Photos

I don’t know about you but after our family comes back from a vacation we have hundreds of photos and I in this craft post I will show you how to make special framed vacation photos. Specialized photo frames can be a little pricey or maybe you can’t find one that you like or fits your vacation destination and I will show you how to take a simple frame and custom design it to fit any vacation destination.  For this craft project I chose five different themes: Disney, Beach, Road trip, World traveler and Disney.  To make these five themed Framed Vacation Photo craft project I used a variety of embellishments; such as scrapbook stickers, wooden and metal items and even Christmas ornaments.

Disney Theme

Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida are two favorite family vacation destinations. Shown below is an idea for Framed Disney Vacation Photos using scrapbook embellishments.  Disney offers lots of scrapbook embellishments and I’m sure that you can find the perfect ones at your local craft store.  They have a great selection of stickers for every Disney adventure for theme parks, various characters, ride attractions, Disney dining at the park, a Disney movie or play and a Disney cruise. 

For this craft project, I used a “Friends” stickers and several character stickers.  I arranged it for a portrait (vertical) photo but you can very easily change it for a landscape (horizontal) photo, too!  


Shown below is a selection of some of the Disney stickers available to create your own custom designed Framed Vacation Photos

Disney stickers 1 Disney stickers 3

Beach Theme

Our family loves a great trip to the beach and while living in California it was one of our favorite fun weekend destination.  Maybe your family went on a great trip to Hawaii, Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean.  Shown below is an idea for Framed Beach Vacation Photos using pre-cut wood pieces.  Pre-cut wooden items come in a variety of themes and I found palm trees, pineapples, Hawaiian flowers, beach pail and a beach shovel.

For this craft project, I used two pre-painted wooden palm trees.  In order to use them to “frame” the photo opening I had to disassemble one of the trees.  Since I needed to paint the back side of the tree I decided to change the look and painted both of them to match. 


Shown below on the right is the original palm tree and on the left is the re-painted one!

painted palm trees
Beach Vacation 1  Beach Vacation 2

Family Road Trip Theme

During the summer months our family loves to get in the car and travel to some fun destination for the weekend and sometimes we take longer road trips to visit interesting cities or national parks.  A variety of embellishments can be used for Family Road Trip Vacation Photos, just shop your local craft store and I’m sure they will have ones that would match the destination!

I found a great “Road Trip” sticker and one that says, “Are we there yet?”


World Traveler Theme

Maybe your family has been lucky and you’ve been able to travel to the different countries around the world.  (Personally my dream trip would be to Australia!!).  A variety of embellishments can be used for World Travel Vacation Photos, just shop your local craft store to select the perfect ones that would match the destination!    

I found a “World Traveler” sticker and metal embellishments – a compass and camera.


Western Theme

Maybe your family went on a great trip to a fun destination like Texas, Wyoming or another western state or you went on a great horseback ride during your vacation.  A variety of Western embellishments can be used for this craft project, just shop your local craft store for stickers, wood or metal embellishments.

I found some western themed ornaments to use for a fun three dimensional look!  


So have fun creating your own Framed Vacation Photos, the options are endless!!!

Miscellaneous – E. B. White – Birthday

EB WhiteE. B. (Elwyn Brooks) White was born on July 11, 1899 in Mount Vernon, New York.  He was the youngest child of Jessie Hart White, the daughter of Scottish-American painter William Hart and Samuel Tilly White, the president of a piano firm.  If you are like me (by the way, it’s Jeff again) you probably find the name somewhat familiar, but have trouble placing it.“I think he wrote a children’s book or something?” That’s right, he is the author of several of the most beloved children’s books of all time: Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpet of the Swan and Stewart Little! For those of us who are a little older, he was one of the most influential authors published in The New Yorker from when it was started in 1925 until the late seventies. Finally, he revised a small book called “The Elements of Style” in 1959. This book is still required reading in many composition classes in high school and college and I have a copy I still use!

White attended public schools in Mount Vernon growing up and went to Cornell University where picked up the nickname Andy after the school tradition of naming anyone with a last name of White “Andy” after the university’s founder.  He graduated in 1921 and was offered a teaching position at the University of Minnesota, but he declined because he wanted to be a writer. After college he worked for United Press International and was a reporter for the Seattle Times for a few years. In 1924 he started working for the Frank Seaman advertising company. He published a number of poems while at the advertising agency and continued to submit articles and essays to magazines. These articles came to the attention of Katharine Angell in 1925 when his article “Defense of the River Bronx” was published. He resisted the offer of contributing editor until 1927 and worked for most of the rest of his career although he did write for Harper’s Magazine from 1938 to 1943.

White married Katharine in 1929 and shortly after that they moved to Maine where he lived until his death.  He was a very private person who disliked publicity. It was said he used the fire escape to leave his office to avoid people he did not know.

Most of us, out of a politeness made up of faint curiosity and profound resignation, go out to meet the smiling stranger with a gesture of surrender and a fixed grin, but White has always taken to the fire escape. He has avoided the Man in the Reception Room as he has avoided the interviewer, the photographer, the microphone, the rostrum, the literary tea, and the Stork Club. His life is his own. He is the only writer of prominence I know of who could walk through the Algonquin lobby or between the tables at Jack and Charlie’s and be recognized only by his friends.

— James Thurber, E. B. W., “Credos and Curios”

By 1959 White was considered by many to be “the most important contributor to The New Yorker at a time when it was arguably the most important American literary magazine.”  He was commissioned by Macmillan to rework the 52 page “The Elements of Style” written by William Strunk in 1918 a book he had vaguely remembered using while at Cornell. This new version became known as “Strunk & White” and as I mentioned is required reading for many, many composition classes even today. The first version sold over 2 million copies and the subsequent revisions sold over 10 million copies. Mark Garvey wrote Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style which is a history of the book and a operatic play was also written based on the book.

While “The Elements of Style” is very well known, White is also known for his children’s books. He had a very difficult time writing them as he described: “I really only go at it when I am laid up in bed, sick, and lately I have been enjoying fine health. My fears about writing for children are great—one can so easily slip into a cheap sort of whimsy or cuteness. I don’t trust myself in this treacherous field unless I am running a degree of fever.” His nieces and nephews pushed him to write them stories and after having a dream about a little boy who looks like a mouse while on a train he started writing “Stuart Little”. In addition, he was pushed by Anne Carroll Moore, an extremely influential librarian who defined and started the children’s library movement in the United States. Interestingly, once the book was finished in 1945 Anne hated it and did everything in her power to block its publication and after publication, its inclusion in children’s libraries. A lengthy description of this battle can be found in from “The New Yorker” published in 2008. It is likely that Anne kept “Stewart Little” out of the Newberry Award contention the year it would have been nominated it didn’t even make the top four.  White got the last laugh though as it has been extremely popular since it’s publication!

In addition to “Stewart Little” White also wrote one of my favorites, “Charlotte’s Web” (1952) and “The Trumpet of the Swan” (1970). Other books written by him include:

White won numerous awards including the 1963 Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Pulitzer Price Special Citation in 1978 for his collected works and essays.  At the end of his life he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died on October 1, 1985 at his farm in Maine. This being said, his legacy continues as “Charlotte’s Web” was voted the top children’s novel in a 2012 survey of readers.

Travel – Mega Caverns, Louisville, Kentucky

Hello everyone, it’s Jeff again and this time I’m posting about our recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky and a visit to the Louisville Mega Cavern.  (Barbara may be planning on writing a post on the caverns, but I thought I would beat her to it!). The Louisville Mega Cavern offers visitors several adventure opportunities, such as zip lining rope courses, it is a little pricey but alot of fun!!  In this post I will talk about the history of the caverns and the available entertainment.

History of the Mega Caverns in Louisville, KentuckyLouisville-1942-590 The mine was first known as the Louisville Crushed Stone Company in the 1930 which provided construction material for the building of the roads and bridges around the Midwest.  The mine shut down in 1972 100 acres of materials had been removed and the space left about 17 miles of underground space.  It was purchased in 1989 and it became the Louisville Underground, LLC. which was a company designed to provide ultra-safe, ultra-secure storage.

The caverns are huge, over 4 million square feet and the space was used for several purposes such as a dumping ground / recycling center for inorganic materials, a worm farm, a storage facility for the city’s road salt supply, secure temperature controlled storage and my favorite, a huge civil defense shelter!  The caverns were slated to house over 50,000 people should there be a nuclear attack on the United States. The city of Louisville had about 788,000 people at the time it would have only been able to house about 16% of the local population so not everyone was invited.  You needed to be on a secret list which included the governor, soldiers from Fort Knox, important people and supposedly Colonel Sanders of KFC fame!

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More recently the owners decided to stray away from storage and started installing some first class entertainment!  After backfilling some 50-60 feet of the cavern, Louisville Mega Caverns were born.  The attractions include a tram ride, “Mega Quest” – a rope adventure area, “Mega Zip” – underground zip lines and opening soon, “Mega Underground Bike Park”.  The bike park is a great idea in my mind because it will be available year round – weather will never again be a factor!

The Facility

The facility is a big cavern (cavern, not cave as it is man made) that has been partially filled in over time.  It is the largest building in Kentucky and one of the most eco-friendly as the large amount of limestone which provided insulation for keeping the facility at a constant 58 degrees.


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There is a decent parking lot close to the entrance and a small covered area, which I assume is where you meet for the tram rides.  The entrance takes you down a long hall with posted lists on facts for visitors to read and be entertained.  The corridor is made of fairly plain sheetrock with no real embellishments, but it is just getting you to the real entrance.  Before you get there however you pass part of the storage area and some really HUGE fans!  Those really impressed me.  They are probably 15 feet tall!


The entrance to Mega Quest / Mega Zip is quaint, but when you get in the facility is nice.  There is a seating area with tables that will fit a large number of people.  They section parts off for “private” parties.  There is a small gift shop and an area serving snacks and drinks with free refills.  Take advantage of this – “mega questers” will get thirsty with all that strenuous activity.

The staff is very nice and helpful and they operate more like a family business that a corporate machine giving the place a very nice feel.  I’ll talk a little more about the specifics of each attraction as I get there.

Mega Tram

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When we visited Mega Caverns it was winter and the tram was not running, but here is the description stolen shamelessly from their web site:

The Historic Tram Tour will take you on an underground adventure rich in history, geology, mining, recycling, green building technology, and just simply HUGE in scale!

The man-made cavern spans under a number of roadways above and is part of 17 miles of corridors located beneath the city of Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a great tour for all ages—whether you want to learn about science and history or simply want to see what a giant man-made cavern of this magnitude looks like!

You’ll hop on an SUV-pulled tram and be joined by a MEGA Cavern expert who will guide you on your underground adventure. It’s a 60-70 minute tour, strategically lit to enjoy highlights such as:

  • Some Early Cavern Formations
  • A Historic Replica of the Cuban Missile Fallout Bunker
  • A Worm Recycling/Tasting Room
  • Sights and Facts of the Early Mining Operation
  • Hear About our Storm Dog and Pigeon Eating Hawk
  • And More Surprises Wait Around Every Corner!

Mega Quest


Mega Quest was the purpose of our visit.  We thought our daughter would enjoy it.  Our family enjoys exploring caves (see these posts on Wind and Jewel Caves and Mammoth Cave)  I’m guessing the facility was about 9,000 square feet, which would have been impressive in itself, but it was also 20 – 30 feet tall!  It was lit with cool blue, red and green lights.  It felt like the lights kept changing colors, but I am really not sure about that.  You climb around on 76 different challenges with a small zip line on one side of the course.  My daughter and her friend spent three hours there and would have continued had they not been so tired!


I was extremely impressed with the safety measures they have in place.  First, they provide  visitors a helmet and harness, but they go way beyond that.  They have a double hooked, self-managed belay system and seriously train everyone to always keep one hook attached.  The mechanism is also built to prevent both hooks from being detached at the same time.  I felt perfectly safe while my daughter was 30 feet in the air dangling on a thin rope bridge or zipping 100 feet on her own.


They say the course is good for everyone from about 5 to 90, but I think 5 is a bit young and while the course looked fun, I feel it is better geared to the 8 to 18 year old.  Of course I am saying this without actually having been on the course myself.

Mega Zip


My daughter and her friend were going to spend three hours on the Mega Quest ropes so I thought I would try something else.  Mega Cavern also offers underground zip lining.  I had never been zip lining, it was my near my birthday and Barbara encouraged me so I thought “Why not?”.  First, let me say I really enjoyed it.  I was in a group of 9 people, the max is 12 and it took us a good two hours to go through the course.  The guides were experienced, friendly and fun.

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The tour starts in the equipment area.  There you get your gear on and there is a short practice zip line.  As the participant you do nothing, the guides attach all the cables and basically take care of everything.  After the practice line you walk quite a way underground, past the entrance and the soon to be opened Bike Park to the first real zip line.  I believe the first is called the Highway to Hell.  It has fun, campy decorations and it is a fairly long line.  I can’t remember the names of the others but they were quite long, one was some 90 feet in the air and the dual racing at the end was fun.

What I do remember was that after the second or third line we mounted platforms and did not touch the ground until the end.  Those of you who know me might find this odd, but I am afraid of heights.  While we were kept attached to dual guide lines the entire time we were off the ground and were perfectly safe, I struggled with the challenge bridges.  I really only felt safe once I was zipping through the darkness which is the part that scares most other people.  Go figure…

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Bike Park


The latest attraction at Mega Caverns is an underground bike park.  It is an off road track designed by Jeff Perkins and offers 40-plus trail lines covering 320,000 square feet.  The park is now open (it wasn’t when we were there).  Here is the spiel from Mega Caverns:

  • The only UNDERGROUND bike park in the world
  • The largest indoor bike park on the planet!!!
  • No spectators allowed at this time
  • 320,000 square feet
  • 10 stories or 100 feet underground
  • Over 45 trails
  • Bike rental available in April 2015 (not available now)
  • Helmets are required


For the Mega Quest and Zip Lining, probably also for the bikes they offer pictures. They come in two price points – generic and personal.  The personal tag costs $10 and you get unlimited pictures.  The generic tag takes pictures as well, but they cost more at the end.  We purchased the personal tag (which you get to take home), but I was disappointed with the pictures.  There were a couple of stock pictures (see below), but most of the pictures of me and my daughter were blurry, too dark, or of someone else or I was looking away.  I  would recommend sticking with the generic tags and if you get a good picture, pay the price.

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My only complaint, although that is probably too strong a word, with the Mega Caverns is the cost.  The zip lining was $80, the Mega Quest was $40.  My choice on the pictures added another $10 to that.  For the Mega Quest it works out to about $14 an hour which isn’t too bad.  At $40 an hour for the zip line it was somewhat expensive, but I would consider doing it again.  The gift shop has items of decent quality, but of tourist attraction gift shop prices.  The bike park seems to be very reasonably priced.


Mega Caverns is a fun adventure with something for the whole family.  For those who can’t or don’t want to walk there is the tram.  For those more adventurous there is Mega Quest and if old / large enough (you need to be at least 75 lbs) there are the zip lines. The cavern has other events, particularly at Christmas and it is a decent value. Both my daughter and I enjoyed our adventures and we will go back.  Hopefully Barbara will go on the zip lines with us!

Miscellaneous – Edwin Hubble’s Birthday

Edwin Hubble

It’s Jeff again, here as a guest writer about another “science guy”!  This time it is about one of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, Edwin Hubble.  Before researching Edwin I didn’t know much about him other than he was an astronomer and had the Hubble Space Telescope named after him.  The Hubble Space Telescope is one of my favorite satellites so while Hubble didn’t have much to do with it other than lending his name to it and I will talk about it later in this post.  But first …

Edwin Hubble was born on November 20, 1889 in Marshfield, Missouri to Virginia Lee James and John Powell Hubble.  His father was an insurance executive who had very specific thoughts as to how his son should live his life.  Edwin was interested in astronomy from an early age.  His grandfather had built a telescope and on his 8th birthday Edwin was allowed to stay up all night to gaze at the sky.  Edwin was a local sports hero, playing just about every kind of sport and setting state records in Illinois. Edwin also did well in school  and his father insisted that his son should become a lawyer.  I think that the discipline he gained learning to become the best in his sports endeavors carried him through the rest of his life.  When he went to the University of Chicago in 1906 he had a couple of goals.  First, he took enough law classes to satisfy his father.  Second, he set his sights on the Rhodes scholarship, something that had never been awarded to a University of Chicago student, and finally one of his last goals was to focuse a fair amount of time on the sciences; mathematics, astronomy, physics and other scientific classes.  Edwin studied the guidelines of the Rhodes scholarship and started taking classes in the classics, Greek, Latin, French, Politics and economics.  He knew these classes would give him an edge.  He ran unopposed for vice president of his senior class so he could add it to his resume and continued to play basketball as the Rhodes committees not only looked at academics, but character, “the instincts to lead and take an interest in his schoolmates”  and a “fondness for and success in manly outdoor sports such as cricket, football and the like.”  His work paid off and he was awarded the 1910 Rhodes scholarship for Illinois.  In the fall of 1910 he went to Oxford to study law.  Edwin earned a law degree from Oxford in 1913 just before returning home to his family in Kentucky after his father died.  His heart wasn’t into law so he became a teacher and taught in the local high school for a bit until he finally decided at age 25 to go back to school to become an astronomer.  He received his PhD in 1917 from the University of Chicago after rushing to finish his dissertation to enlist in the Army.  He went to Europe, but never saw combat.  After the war he spent about a year at Cambridge until he was offered a job at the Mount Wilson observatory in California.  He accepted the job and worked there for the remainder of his life.

hubble1    Resolved Stars

So what did Edwin Hubble do that got one of the coolest satellites ever named after him?  His first big discovery was that the fuzzy nebulae dotted throughout the sky were not gas clouds, but other galaxies. Second, he determined the rate of expansion of the universe, a value now called the Hubble Constant.  He did a considerable amount of work on Redshifts (how the spectrum of an object changes with respect to the direction it is traveling) and he discovered a comet.  Despite all of his amazing discoveries, Hubble never won a Nobel Prize.  Up until the time of his death on September 28, 1953 (he died of a stroke) astronomers were not eligible for the Nobel Prize.  Subsequently the Nobel committee has changed its rules, but they never award the prize posthumously.


Edwin was by all accounts a very interesting person.  He was extremely handsome and well spoken.  He was quite taken by his time in England and the rest of his life he spoke with a British accent.  He was a famous astronomer and rubbed elbows with movie stars, politicians and other famous scientists.  After marrying into money he never let his wife meet his family and it seems he had a tendency to exaggerate his history to fit what the current audience would like to hear.  All in all, was an extremely interesting, driven and brilliant person who I think would have been interesting to meet.

Hubble Space Telescope


Now that you know why the Hubble Space Telescope was named after Edwin, why do I find it so interesting?  Well first of all, I’m amazed at the images it has produced.  While some huge ground based telescopes are now rivaling Hubble’s quality, it was the best telescope around for the longest time.  Here is a collage of some of its images:


Secondly, the telescope is HUGE!  It is the size of a school bus.  I spent countless hours watching the last servicing mission live.  There were points when two fully suited astronauts were INSIDE the telescope working on it.  It was awesome!

Hubble Service Mission

An then of course there are the IMAGES.  Yes, I know that was my first point, but the pictures from the Hubble are truly amazing.  If you are interested in astronomy at all, check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day web site.  It has been around since June of 1995 and frequently features Hubble pictures.

Miscellaneous – Chuck Yeager Breaks Sound Barrier


Hello, it’s Jeff again!  As those of you who regularly follow Barbara’s blog know, she occasionally asks me to write a post for her. Usually about something space related or a biography of someone spacey or science fiction related.  While it is not easy researching and writing these posts I usually agree and I always learn something new about very interesting people. Chuck Yeager is no exception! I’m guessing that most of us have watched the movie “The Right Stuff” which Chuck says is slightly “Hollywoodized” but otherwise pretty good and know that on October 14th, 1947 he became the first person to break the sound barrier, but that is only one feat in an impressive career. Before we get into who Chuck was, take three minutes to watch his historic flight.

“Chuck” Charles Elwood Yeager was born February 23, 1923 in Myra West Virginia to Susie Mae and Albert Hal Yeager.  Myra was an extremely small town where his parents farmed.  When he was 5 he moved to Hamlin, about 7 miles away where his father went to work drilling for natural gas.  In 1929 the population was only about 500 people, but to the young Chuck it seemed like a big city!  The Yeager’s were not well off during the best of times and especially during the Great Depression, but they were resourceful and made do with what they had.  His childhood was also marred by tragedy when his two year old sister was accidently killed by his brother Roy when he was four and Chuck and Roy were playing with their father’s shotgun.  He spent a lot of time with his grandfather hunting and fishing and gaining a great appreciation for the outdoors. Throughout his youth, Chuck helped maintain the family garden, tended the animals and hunted for wild edible plants, squirrels and rabbits.  Having driven through the area where he grew up in West Virginia many times over the past few years I can see how he would fall in love with the magnificent countryside!  The boys also did a lot of work around the house as their father was often away in the gas fields.

Generally, Chuck was an average student.  He skipped second grade, but had to take 5th grade twice.  He was good at geometry and he was an excellent typist, typing 60 words a minute in high school.  This was quite a feat with the manual typewriters of the time!  He played football and basketball and was quite good at these, but loved pool and ping-pong best.  He was also mechanically inclined and helped his father maintain his gas drilling equipment.  He and his brother also learned to overhaul engines, pumps and other mechanical equipment before he graduated high school in 1941.

After graduating high school, Chuck enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a mechanic.  At the time he was not particularly interested in flying and even if he were, he would not be accepted because he was too young and you needed at least two years of college to qualify.  The entry of the United States into World War II changed all that.  The Air Corps needed more pilots and they dropped the college requirement and reduced the age restriction to 18.  Although his first flying experiences left his stomach somewhat upset he thought becoming a pilot would be fun and “with three stripes he would get out of pulling guard duty.”  He was accepted into the Flying Sergeant program in July of 1942.  His 20/10 eyesight, his mechanical aptitude and his ability to stay calm in stressful situations caught the eye of the instructors and he was quickly moved to fighter pilot training.  He received his wings in 1943 and was assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group.

This is the year he met Glennis Dickhouse, the woman who was to become his wife.  As one of the junior officers in the 357th, he and another officer were sent to arrange for some entertainment for the group.  They went to to the local USO office to arrange a dance.  Glennis asked Chuck if he really expected her to arrange a dance for 30 officers in just three hours and he replied “No, you only need to find 29 girls.  I plan on taking you.”  After he shipped out to Europe he named all of his planes after her.  They were married in 1945 and remained happily married until her death of ovarian cancer in 1990.

Chuck’s distinguished war career is well documented in his official website at, but here are the highlights:

  • Stationed at RAF Leiston in 1943 flying P-51 mustangs
  • Shot down first enemy fighter March 4th, 1943
  • Shot down over over France on his 8th mission March 5th, 1943
  • Evaded enemy and escaped through Spain on March 30th
  • Petitioned and received permission on June 12, 1944 from the Supreme Allied Commander (General Dwight D. Eisenhower to be allowed to return to duty.  “Evaders”, pilots who had avoided capture, were prohibited from returning to service because they might compromise the people who helped them escape if caught again.
  • Became the first pilot to become “ace in a day” by shooting down five enemy aircraft on October 12, 1944.
  • Flew his last combat mission (#61) on January 15th, 1945.

When he returned to the United States after the war his experience, both flight and mechanical qualified him to be a test pilot.  His skills were such that he was selected by Colonel Albert Boyd, the chief of the Flight Test Division at Wright Field to be a test pilot.  Here is how the Chuck Yeager website describes the selection:

“In June 1947 Colonel Boyd made one of the most important decisions of his career when he chose one of his most junior test pilots to attempt to become the first person to exceed the speed of sound in the rocket-powered Bell XS-1. He chose Yeager because he considered him the best “instinctive” pilot he had ever seen and he had demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to remain calm and focused in stressful situations. The X-1 program certainly promised to be stressful; many experts believed the so-called “sound barrier” was impenetrable. Yeager and the rest of the small Air Force test team met at Muroc in late July.”

Chuck_Yeager glamorous glennis

At Edwards Air Force base (Muroc Army Air Field then) his flight and mechanical skills were put to the test.  He made a couple number of test runs reaching almost the speed of sound, but the plane buffeted so much and the controls froze it looked like the naysayers were correct and breaking the sound barrier was truly an impossible task.  To compensate for the complete loss of elevator effectiveness (the ability to control the pitch of the plane) Jack Ridley, the chief engineer and most trusted adviser to Chuck, suggested Chuck control the pitch by use of the movable tail built into the XS-1.  The tactic worked and on October 14, 1947 Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier.

Chuck remained in the Air Force on active duty until 1975 and during his career he accomplished many firsts.  These including being the first American to pilot a captured MiG 15, which he promptly declared to be inferior to its American counterpart the F-86 Sabre; commanding numerous squadrons; being commandant of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, which produced astronauts for NASA and the Air Force; and acting as an adviser to Pakistan.  Over his career Chuck piloted most of the military and many civilian planes produced.  He continued acting in an advisory capacity and finally retired from military flight permanently in on October 14, 1997 after flying a F-15D Eagle past Mach one in a celebration of the 50th anniversary of his historic flight.  At the end of his retirement speech he stated “All that I am … I owe to the Air Force”.  He broke the sound barrier again on October 14, 2012 on the 65th anniversary as well.  During his career he received 55 medals which were donated to the Smithsonian.  They are currently no longer on display.


One other thing to note about his service as a test pilot is that he survived an extremely dangerous job.  As I was researching I discovered that in one month 60 test pilots were killed.  That number astounds me!  Finally, the last thing I find interesting about Chuck’s career is that he never became an astronaut.  He did receive astronaut wings for flying above the atmosphere in a plane, but he was never one of the astronaut candidates.  It may be that he didn’t have the required education, but I think it probably related more to him being a test pilot and I think he felt that the original Mercury astronauts were more test subjects.  The 1983 movie “The Right Stuff”, in which Chuck has a cameo role as the bartender, they go into this is some detail.

Chuck’s more recent past has been a little turbulent.  In 2000 he met Victoria Scott D’Angelo while hiking near his home.  They started dating and were married in 2003.  This started a dispute with his children as she was 35 years younger than Chuck and they felt she was just after his money.  Chuck says that he realized while his wife was ill with cancer his kids were rarely around and he figured he would end up in an assisted living facility.  He felt he needed to find someone to look after him.  In any case, Victoria is sue happy and had made a handy living suing people prior to meeting Chuck and now that they are married Chuck has become involved in numerous lawsuits, including several against his children.

Taking this last episode aside, it seems like Chuck Yeager is a hard working, dedicated man who has served his country with great distinction.  He is also a shining example of the American Dream, rising from his poor youth to an extremely successful role model.  In many of the biographies I have researched for Barbara I frequently find that the public vision of the person is far removed from the reality, but I think Chuck is a truly great person and I’m glad she asked me to write about him!