|CHARLESTON, WV – After seeing some paint samples, Victoria Yeager decided she really liked the blue and gold paint scheme proposed for the Charles Chuck Yeager Bridge.|
The bridge, on the West Virginia Turnpike in Charleston, is named for Victoria’s late husband, Brig. Gen. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, a Hamlin native and the first man to officially break the sound barrier in a specially built rocket plane.
Yeager saw a press release featuring an artist’s rendition of the blue and gold paint scheme and contacted Jeff Miller, Executive Director of the West Virginia Parkways Authority, which oversees operation and maintenance of the Turnpike.
“He sent me two paint samples,” Yeager said. Once she saw the actual colors for the twin spans, Yeager liked the idea of blue and gold bridges.
|Yeager got a look firsthand at the paint job on a recent visit to Charleston, where she was promoting a new book and helping unveil a new exhibit on Gen. Yeager at West Virginia International Yeager Airport.|
Contractors are nearly halfway finished repainting the two bridges, with work nearly complete painting the steelwork underneath the two spans.
|In June 2021, Southern Road and Bridge LLC was awarded a contract for approximately $16.3 million to repaint the bridges. They will begin repainting the upper surfaces of the bridges in early 2023.|
“This is so beautiful,” Yeager said of the work completed so far. “It’s outstanding.
“Before, the bridge was just drab. It didn’t say ‘excellence’ like its namesake.”
|Gen. Yeager grew up in Hamlin and flew P-51 fighter aircraft during World War II. Shot down, he 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. Gen. Yeager returned to combat, eventually racking up 11.5 aerial victories.|
In 1947, 75 years ago, Gen. Yeager officially broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, a specially built rocket plane. The general 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, Gen. Yeager recovered from the spin and landed the aircraft.
Victoria Yeager is concerned that more people don’t know about Gen. Yeager and his legacy. She hopes the new paint scheme will help draw attention to Gen. Yeager and all he did and achieved.
“Now, I can proudly say, ‘That’s Yeager Bridge,’” she said.