Thursday, February 19, 2004

Chuck Yeager

Until I read this article, I wasn't sure Yeager was still alive. Tom Wolfe's descriptions in the novel The Right Stuff are fabulous- an American pilot who set the mold for all pilots with a southern drawl and humor, but with moxie as well. The book is definitely worth a read, and although the movie had to edit significant events out, it still did justice to the story of the developing experimental pilots who tested the limits of jets and became the first American astronauts.
With the plugs out of the way, I was a little surprised and a little disappointed to read about Chuck Yeager's current events with his new wife and feud with his children (well, three out of his four). The article portrays Yeager's (aged 81) new love interest (who, at age 45 is younger than his youngest child) as being a sketchy gold-digger (mentioning her past of issuing many small claims suits against airports and cellular telephone companies) who is manipulating Yeager's money and assets away from his family. Yeager explains that he has fully funded his children's expenses after he retired- feeling sorry for his absence during their childhood years he funneled millions of dollars to them through his company (Yeager Inc.) and through his speeches, which made from $25,000 - $50,000 each. He also has a military pension of about $85,000 a year.
I was surprised that Yeager assumed his children's lawsuits against him meant they were now his enemies although it is fairly evident that this seems to be a last-ditched effort from his family to show what this new woman is doing to their inheritance- and their father. I was also surprised that even Yeager's closet friends did not agree with his new mate. Then, I was a little disappointed in Yeager's actions (after only 2 weeks, she moved in with him and in the article it says that she was the main reason Yeager's speech payments went up to $50,000- double the previous amount, although I'm sure he didn't "need" the money to survive).
In contrast, I do believe in the self-made man and Yeager seems to be just that. So, as I can identify with the children's concerns (though they may actually just be selfish), I also see Yeager's money as being Yeager's money. I figure $5,000,000 is enough support for his four children- and he even wants to secure the futures of his grandchildren. So the rest of his money is, well, his, I suppose.

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