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Going Direct: Two Degrees Of Separation From Chuck Yeager

How his career and legend shaped my flying life, and those of a million other pilots.

Two Degrees of Separation from Chuck Yeager

My instructor and I were quiet as we flew, winging along, a couple of hundred feet above the starkly beautiful western Mojave Desert. I was doing the flying, working on my commercial certificate (which I would not complete for another decade-and-a-half), and the guy in the right seat, Si Campbell, was doing the instructing, which he mostly did without saying a word. When he did say something, it carried weight.

That early spring day was perfect for flying. The winds were a whisper, and the air was crystal blue. Such spring days pass a near miracles in those parts. Mostly from January through around May the wind whips in from the southwest, stirring up dust and turning the air light dusky brown. Not that day.

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