A best selling 1979 book by Tom Wolfe
It deals with the origin of the American space program in the Airforce experimental aircraft testing. Beginning in the location of Edwards Air Force Base in California, and the time before anyone knew for certain if it was possible to go faster than the speed of sound. It made Chuck Yeager much more famous among the public. He was the first to break the "Sound Barrier" in the Bell X-1. He also went on to fly the X-15. This is a technically accurate book, being the product of much research on the part of Wolfe.
To win the arms race with the Russians, it was necessary to constantly develop new and faster military aricraft. But to complete the development process required that the latest product of Aircraft Design be actually flown. For this task, they culled a special group of Fighter Pilots, the Test Pilots. A very dangerous job, but one which had special appeal to the macho men who had, the right stuff.
When it came time to choose the very first group of astronauts for the earliest space flights, it was the Test pilots from whom they chose. In the first group of Astronauts in the Project Mercury were: John Glenn, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Alan Shepard, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper
It won won the American Book Award for general nonfiction, the National Book Award, a place on the Modern Library's 100 Best Books: Nonfiction and also on the list of Top 100 Works of Journalism In the United States In the 20th Century.
Later it was made into a movie of the same name.
Yeager, Chuck, "YEAGER: An Autobiography", Bantam Books, NY, 1985
Wolfe, Tom, The Right Stuff, Bantam Books, NY, 1979
Last Updated 02.13.03