In recounting the exploits of the renowned test pilot and World War II ace Chuck Yeager, Tom Wolfe (1979) observed that Yeager’s calm, West Virginian drawl can still be heard in the voices of virtually all commercial pilots, decades after Yeager became the first to break the sound barrier. This inflection caught on in the late 1940s among a cadre of Yeager’s disciples at an airfield in the high desert of California, who sought to emulate the “ace of aces,” and it spread further, from generation to generation, aided by the participation of many of those disciples as...

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