Just before you break through the sound barrier, the cockpit shakes the most.

Charles Yeager was an iconic human being to most who have never met him. Most people ask themselves, “What kind of person was he?” “Was he really fearless?” What was he thinking deep in his heart to enable him to overcome the most basic fears we all have inside us, not only to overcome, but to flourish in an atmosphere of uncertainty and high risk of danger and death?

These quotes help us to get inside Chuck Yeager’s mind at the moments that most mattered – Life and death, success or failure. How can we take these truths to heart to change our own lives? Perhaps by taking into consideration these simple truths in the context of Chuck Yeager’s life it can allow us to grow and be better people as well.

There is no such thing as a natural born pilot. Whatever my aptitudes or talents, becoming a proficient pilot was hard work, really a lifetime’s learning experience. For the best pilots, flying is an obsession, the one thing in life they must do continually. The best pilots fly more than the others; that’s why they’re the best. Experience is everything. The eagerness to learn how and why every piece of equipment works is everything. And luck is everything, too.

Rules are made for people who aren’t willing to make up their own.

You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.

The first time I ever saw a jet, I shot it down.

Unfortunately, many people do not consider fun an important item on their daily agenda. For me, that was always a high priority in whatever I was doing.

What good does it do to be afraid? It doesn’t help anything. You better try and figure out what’s happening and correct it.

Leveling off at 42,000 feet, I had thirty percent of my fuel, so I turned on rocket chamber three and immediately reached .96 Mach. I noticed that the faster I got, the smoother the ride. Suddenly the Mach needle began to fluctuate. It went up to .965 Mach – then tipped right off the scale … We were flying supersonic. And it was a smooth as a baby’s bottom; Grandma could be sitting up there sipping lemonade.

The best pilots fly more than the others; that’s why they’re the best.

If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.

That to me is a bunch of crap trying to shoot guys up into damned space. What they’re going to do is they’re going to wipe out half a dozen people one of these days, and that will be the end of it.

If you want to grow old as a pilot, you’ve got to know when to push it, and when to back off.

Everybody that I’ve ever seen that enjoyed their job was very good at it.

The secret of my success is that I always managed to live to fly another day.

Most pilots learn, when they pin on their wings and go out and get in a fighter, especially, that one thing you don’t do, you don’t believe anything anybody tells you about an airplane.

There is no kind of ultimate goal to do something twice as good as anyone else can. It’s just to do the job as best you can. If it turns out good, fine. If it doesn’t, that’s the way it goes.

I have flown in just about everything, with all kinds of pilots in all parts of the world – British, French, Pakistani, Iranian, Japanese, Chinese – and there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between any of them except for one unchanging, certain fact: the best, most skillful pilot has the most experience.

You concentrate on what you are doing, to do the best job you can, to stay out of serious situations. And that’s the way the X-1 was.

Later, I realized that the mission had to end in a let-down because the real barrier wasn’t in the sky but in our knowledge and experience of supersonic flight.

After about 30 minutes I puked all over my airplane. I said to my self, “Man, you made a big mistake.”

At 42,000′ in approximately level flight, a third cylinder was turned on. Acceleration was rapid and speed increased to .98 Mach. The needle of the machmeter fluctuated at this reading momentarily, then passed off the scale. Assuming that the off-scale reading remained linear, it is estimated that 1.05 Mach was attained at this time.

At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results.

Never wait for trouble.

The one word you use in military flying is duty. It’s your duty. You have no control over outcome, no control over pick-and-choose. It’s duty.




  1. Mr Yeager you will have had many responses to your Inspiring Life Stories here is one more 🙂
    and I am certain the Legacy of your Life will go on for endless Generations.
    “REASON OR RESULT” we words that jumped out at me from a quote while on a airplane flight and I quickly wrote these words and the name attached
    Chuck Yager – I have since looked your name and these words up on my mobile and got the abouve
    Story 🙂 Yes it was while the plane was about to descend into Sydney Airport – quickly I popped a lolly in my mouth to minimise “popping ears”
    kinda hard case really considering your experience
    a pilot/astronaut.
    THANKYOU!!! for ensuring “Your Story” is being told
    and Expressed as only You can – I am locking forward to reading your book.
    I am a Pacific Island Mum and have Four Sons and Eight Grandchildren (so far) we live in Sydney Australia,
    I was raised in Porirua New Zealand and my Parents are from Western Samoa – they came to New Zealand for a “Better Furure” (as many Immigrants do throughout the world).
    My husband and I are Pastors in Blacktown NSW
    Australia “Always Kingdom Church”
    I did know your name and astronauts we a “Big Deal” growing up (like our All Blacks).
    You have a to be envied and Blessed Life and that is what everyone is born to be a Blessing to Humanity.
    Love • Joy • Peace
    Tua Clark

  2. […] Chuck Yeager once said “there is no such thing as a natural born pilot.” He said that growing up on the farm gave him the attention to detail that made him a great pilot. I think growing up in a large family and being the oldest of seven siblings is where I gained my customer service ethos. From an early age, I helped my mom with my younger siblings, and even took the first class hour in high school to stay home to get my brother and sisters up and off to school. Every job I’ve ever had pivoted around customer service, from my first job in the newsroom at the local daily newspaper, to the various businesses I’ve owned and operated over the years, to the work I do in my community today. I’ve started community connections groups, where my theme was about caring, connecting and communicating, and I’ve used that theme as a natural extension of who I am. […]

  3. Quote by Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager USAF,

    “Son, I only do it once and it’s done right the first time”.

    Delco Battery Commercial taping on grounds of Oshkosh Air Show 1984?

    Witnessed by civilian pilots Michael E. Pyzdrowski and older brother Major Henry A. Pyzdrowski Jr., USMC and USNA Class of ’70 16th Company graduate.

    I managed to shake Brig. Gen. Yeager’s hand after his steely eye stare down.

  4. Yeager is quite the story that many will always remember.The movie The Right Stuff is one that never gets old to watch.My Favorite


    -What good does it do to be afaraid.It dosent help anything.You better try and figure out, whats happening and correct it.
    Said by :Chuck Yeager

    -Not knowing the truth can be a powerful enemy…
    Said by: Me

  5. Hi.I was stationed at Seymour Johnson AFB.Sir you where a Colonel at that time.I was with 4th Civil Engineering.But,I trained with Capt.Larry Skanky for bare base.Do you remember Bill Smyk.Bill just turned 94 January.Bill & I have kept in touch since 1971.We visit as much as we can.I am back in WV since 1976.But, we love to go back to NC.We lost Glenn Sparks 2years ago.He worked at the control tower Seymour.

  6. I am looking for a quotation about fear of the unknown, or “Ugh-known”. It helped me when I was in treatment for cancer and now I want to pass it on and can’t find it.


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