Dale Olson, Lt. Col. (Ret) of the United States Air Force and adjunct professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at West Virginia University, reflects on the occasions he met his hero, the late Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, an Air Force legend. Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in 1947, passed away on Monday (Dec. 7) at 97.
Quotes and Comments:
Olson’s first-time meeting Yeager occurred during an event for the Arnold Air Society at WVU:
“As a pledge to the Arnold Air Society, I was required to learn about General Yeager and his AF career. In addition to his accomplishments as a test pilot, I also learned about his experiences in WW II. I knew about his achievement of shooting down five German aircraft in one day and that he is credited with being the first pilot to shoot down a jet aircraft (German Me-262) with a piston powered propeller driven aircraft (P-51 Mustang).”
“What I remember most about that talk was that he told us that in order to be successful in pilot training we would need to always be ‘thinking ahead of the aircraft, keep your head on a swivel and always be aggressive.’ At the time I was not exactly sure what he meant by that, but I eventually came to realize what good advice it was.”
The next encounter came in the summer of 1987 when Olson attended the USAF Squadron Officers College at Maxwell AFB, AL.
“Gen. Yeager and I eventually got around to talking about the self confidence that bordered on arrogance that seemed to be a hallmark of a successful fighter pilot. Gen. Yeager agreed and said that you always have to believe that you are the toughest dog in the fight. If not, you will lose, and you will die.” — Dale Olson, Lt Col (Ret), USAF
CONTACT: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
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