Gov. Justice, Victoria Yeager celebrate completion of Charles Chuck Yeager Bridge project, 76th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier

CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice celebrated the completion of a new gold and blue paint scheme on the Charles Chuck Yeager Bridge in Kanawha City, and to commemorate the 76th anniversary of Yeager’s historic breaking of the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.

The ceremony was highlighted by a flyover of a World War II era P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft, the type Yeager flew during his time in the U.S. Army Air Force in the war.

The Governor was joined by Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, West Virginia Parkways Authority Executive Director Jeff Miller, and Victoria Yeager, wife of deceased Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, during today’s event.

“We truly owe so much to Chuck Yeager and his family,” Gov. Justice said. “I was blessed to meet him a few times, and his courage, intelligence, and grit were remarkable. Not only that, but he’s from West Virginia. We owe everything we have in life to this great man. We will always remember the Yeager family and Chuck’s accomplishments.”
Born near Hamlin in 1923, Yeager officially broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, in the Bell X-1, a specially built rocket plane. He nearly lost an upgraded version of the X-1 in a later flight when the aircraft went into an uncontrolled spin. After plunging 50,000 feet in about 70 seconds, Yeager recovered from the spin and landed the aircraft.

“Thank you, Gov. Justice, because you have kept your word of keeping the Yeager family name alive. Chuck really loved you, and you have been so generous to our family. Thank you, again,” Victoria Yeager said. 

Shot down on March 5, 1944, Yeager evaded the Germans, made his way back to England and volunteered to go back into combat, appealing all the way up to Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Yeager returned to combat, eventually racking up 11.5 aerial victories. Most of his victories were made while flying a P-51 Mustang he dubbed “Glamorous Glen.”
In June 2021, Southern Road and Bridge LLC was awarded a contract for $16,267,273.80 to completely repaint both northbound and southbound spans of the Charles Chuck Yeager Bridge.

It is important to paint bridges regularly to protect the bridge structure and prolong the life of the bridge. The decision was made to paint the bridges in gold and blue in honor of Yeager.
“The Yeager Bridge is an iconic bridge entering the Kanawha Valley on the West Virginia Turnpike, and it was in desperate need of a full painting,” Miller said. “The West Virginia Parkways Authority is proud that Gov. Jim Justice had the vision to honor Yeager, who is one of the greatest West Virginians of all time, by painting this bridge in the official state colors of gold and blue. Not only will this help improve the overall condition and appearance of the bridges, but it is also a simple, yet classy gesture to honor this great West Virginian.”The southern span of the bridge was built in 1952 as part of the original alignment of the West Virginia Turnpike. The northbound bridge was built in 1980.