Chuck Yeager, the most famous test pilot of his generation, who was the first to break the sound barrier and, thanks to Tom Wolfe, came to personify the death-defying aviator who possessed the elusive yet unmistakable “right stuff,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 97.

His death, at a hospital, was announced on his official Twitter account and confirmed by John Nicoletti, a family friend.

General Yeager came out of the West Virginia hills with only a high school education and with a drawl that left many a fellow pilot bewildered. The first time he went up in a plane, he was sick to his stomach.