“By flying higher and faster than any other man had ever dared before, Chuck Yeager set the pace for a new breed of hero. Those that had just one thing in common…THE RIGHT STUFF.”
“The Right Stuff” (1983) is the story of the original seven US Mercury astronauts and their brave, albeit rather crazy approach to the space program. Based on the same-name real-life account by Tom Wolfe, the story follows the seven in both their rock-star public status and the trials and tribulations that went on behind the scenes as the American government was desperately trying to overcome the Russians with advanced technology.
The story begins with wartime ace Chuck Yeagar breaking the sound barrier and the desert airbase, soon called Edwards, becoming an aircraft test center, one where every fighter pilot around wants a job. Not long after Edwards becomes a hot spot, the Soviet Union launches Sputnik and the race for space is on. NASA is quickly founded and the astronaut candidates are tested to exhaustion, their numbers slowly dwindling until only seven are left. Ecstatic, they celebrate, but it’s only too soon as the Russians have now launched Yuri Gagarin into space.
It continues with the astronauts testing and training, including NASA’s first flight with Shepard and Grissom and Glenn’s nearly fatal flights that followed. Then Yeagar, feeling forgotten, attempts a spaceflight with a modified F-104 Starfighter. The jet fizzles out at the edge of space, sending Yeagar spiraling towards the ground and barely saved by his ejection seat.
The film ends with the Mercury 7 basking in their fame at a banquet thrown by Lyndon B. Johnson and finally, Gordo Cooper’s maiden flight. Cooper rides into space, setting records for the longest spaceflight to date, and proving, if only for a short time, that he is “the greatest pilot anyone ever saw.” The narrator tells us that Cooper was the last astronaut to go into space alone.
On October 14th, 1947, Captain Charles Yeager shattered the sound barrier, propelled man into the future, and the search began for a new breed of men. Men who were fearless, ambitious, patriotic beyond question.
Seven men who would risk their lives in a hurtling piece of machinery to cross the threshold of space. They were idolized by the public, heralded by the media, but behind the image, they were human beings. Human beings with real fears, frustrations, conflicts, disappointments, pressures.
This is the story of the special few at the very top. The elite brotherhood whose achievements inspired a nation and captured the imagination of the world.
These are the men who had “the right stuff.”
Buy The Right Stuff on Amazon.com.