Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Chuck Yeager during a news conference at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Oct. 14, 1997, after flying in an F-15 jet fighter plane breaking the sound barrier.

Michael Caulfield/The Associated Press

Chuck Yeager, the retired U.S. Air Force pilot who broke the sound barrier, has sued Airbus SE, accusing the aerospace company of using his name and likeness without permission to promote a new high-speed helicopter.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday that refers to him as “one of the most, if not the most, famous pilots of all time,” the 96-year-old Yeager objected to a June, 2017, piece on Airbus’ website about making the Airbus Racer a fast and cost-effective way to fly.

The piece quoted Guillaume Faury, now Airbus’s chief executive and at the time Airbus Helicopters’ CEO, as saying: “Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier,” and Airbus was now “trying to break the cost barrier. It cannot be ‘speed at any cost.’ ”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Yeager accused Airbus of trademark infringement and taking away his right of publicity through “fraudulent” conduct, in which it deceived the public into believing he endorsed it.

“This is not a company that sells burritos,” Mr. Yeager’s lawyer, Lincoln Bandlow, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “It sells aircraft, and you can’t find a man more valuable to associate with aircraft than Chuck Yeager.”

Airbus spokesmen said the company, which is headquartered in Toulouse, France, had no comment on pending litigation.

Mr. Yeager is seeking unspecified compensatory, punitive and reputational damages, as well as restitution, in a lawsuit filed in the federal court in Santa Ana, Calif.

He has filed similar lawsuits against other defendants in the past.

Mr. Yeager became the first person to break the speed of sound, known as Mach 1, piloting his rocket engine-powered Bell X-1 over Southern California on Oct. 14, 1947.

He became familiar to a younger generation 36 years later when the actor Sam Shepard portrayed him in the movie The Right Stuff, based on the Tom Wolfe book.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Yeager said the website piece was not Airbus’s first use of his name and likeness without permission, saying it previously used an unauthorized video of his 2008 visit to the company.

He said Airbus Helicopters had asked for permission to use his name in press releases, but rejected his demand for more than $1-million and veto power over how it was used.

“There were some negotiations but they fell through, and litigation was unfortunately the next course,” Mr. Bandlow said.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies