Abilene News

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 17 – As things continue to escalate toward the November elections, and I think my head might explode if I hear one more negative ad, I was particularly interested in an item of positive news this past week. Perhaps because I was born in Hampton, home of Langley Air Force Base the original home of the fledgling space program – before it was moved to Hou-ston. I went to school with the children of most of those early space pioneers.

This week, 89 year old Retired Major General in the U. S. Air Force, Chuck Yeager, retraced history in the skies – 65 years to the minute – as the first test pilot to break the sound barrier.

On October 14, 1947, no one knew if a plane could fly faster than the speed of sound. Aircraft approaching Mach 1 shook violently as if hitting an invisible wall. Scientists theorized that as a plane reached high speeds, sound waves piled up around it, creating a “sound barrier” that held it back.

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After World War II, the U. S. military and Bell Aircraft developed the X-1, a “bullet with wings” designed to punch a hole through the sound barrier. The test pilot for the rocket-powered plane was 24-year old Chuck Yeager. A decorated combat ace, he had cheated death more than once.

By mid-October 1947, Chuck Yeager had flown the X-1 several times over the Mojave Desert, edging closer to the sound barrier. On October 14, he climbed into the plane, suffering with two cracked ribs as a result of a fall from a horse – an injury he kept secret so he wouldn't be grounded. A giant B-29 carried the X-1 to 20,000 feet and released it. He fired his rocket en-gines, climbed to 42,000 feet, leveled off and then fired a rocket again. Then it happened. The violent shaking suddenly stopped. “I was so high and so remote, and the airplane was so very quiet that I might have been motionless,” Yeager later re-called. But the needle on the speed gauge jumped off the scale. On the ground below, engineers heard the thunder of a sonic boom. Chuck Yeager had punched through the sound barrier.

As I said, I grew up in Hampton and that sonic boom became a familiar sound in the skies over Hampton Roads.


As a matter of interest and information, there has been a lot of talk of late about cell phone numbers being made public. The answer is yes and no.

There has been a lot of interest in establishing a 411 Directory of cell phone numbers much like the 411 Directory of our home numbers. That has not happened yet.

However, if you go on the computer, you will find many sites advertising cell phone number lists for sale to anyone, includ-ing the dreaded telemarketers – who always seem to call at the most inconvenient times.

A few years ago, most of us signed up on the national Do Not Call list for our home phones. You can do the same thing for your cell phone number. You must place the call from the cell phone you wish to block and call 1-888-382-1222. And, re-member, you must place the call from the cell phone you want blocked.

Recently, Marolyn Lavra and her two daughters, Cathy Bissett and Carolyn Hood, took a trip to San Diego, CA. One of the primary reasons for the trip was to visit the grave of Marolyn's parents at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma. But, they also did a lot of fun stuff- visited the San Diego Zoo, visited the desert, shopped at Seaport Village and ate a lot of delicious seafood and favorite Mexican dishes, taking full advantage of the beautiful weather.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, Jean and Shyrl Marston attended the 65th anniversary celebration of the Jolly Dollies Homemakers Club, held at the College Church at Hampden-Sydney.

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, the Abilene Homemakers Club met to finish making Halloween treat bags for the children at the Pied-mont Juvenile Detention Center in Farmville. And we got started working on Christmas treats for the residents of some of the nearby nursing homes. The Abilene Homemakers Club meets at 1 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month – usually at the Abilene Community Center. We would love to have you visit us.

Also, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, I attended the regular monthly meeting of the Farmville-Prince Edward Historical Society. Our meeting was held at Venable Hall, Parents and Friends Lounge, at Hampden-Sydney College. The speaker was Mr. William A Young, who, dressed in correct period clothes, gave a “first person” account of the last years of Patrick Henry's life. Of course, Patrick Henry lived near Hampden-Sydney for several years, was on its Board of Regents, and seven of his sons attended Hampden-Sydney College. The Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month at the Farmville Train Sta-tion. Visitors are always welcomed.

REMINDER: The Abilene Community Club will hold their Annual Stew on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Abilene Community Center. Stew should be ready by noon.

The Abilene Homemakers Club will hold their annual bake and craft sale at the Abilene Community Center on Saturday, Oct. 20. It will conclude with the drawing for the quilt raffle.

Belated birthday wishes to Clint Thackston who celebrated Oct. 16.

Birthday wishes to Mary Fifield who will celebrate Oct. 21.

If you have any news or announcements that you would like to share, please call me at 223-2271 or e-mail me at kz5ro@kinex.net.