The wrong stuff

Plano, Texas -- Chuck Yeager, who in 1947 became the first man to break the sound barrier and went on to set multiple new speed records, said at a celebration of his 80th birthday that his flying career hardly got off to an auspicious start.

He joined the Air Force in September 1941, but with aspirations of repairing planes, not flying them, Yeager told about 350 people who gathered Thursday night to "celebrate a legend."

"I was trained to be a mechanic, which was easy," he said. In the spring of 1942, Yeager was a crew chief on a twin-engine bombardier training airplane and the engineering officer asked him if he wanted to go along as he flight-tested the craft.

The ride -- his first in an airplane -- was rough and turbulent, "and pretty soon I got sick, and threw up," he said.

Yeager's 80th birthday was Feb. 13, but he put off the celebration for a couple of months until his favorite music group, the Oak Ridge Boys, could attend.

Late star becomes asteroid

Pittsburgh -- Mister Rogers now has an asteroid named in his honor.

"Misterrogers," formerly known as No. 26858, honors Fred Rogers, creator and host of public television's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Rogers died Feb. 27 at age 74.

The Henry Buhl Jr. Planetarium & Observatory at the Carnegie Science Center, which made the announcement Thursday, has produced a planetarium show for preschoolers called "The Sky Above Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." It is playing at 15 planetariums across the country.

"Misterrogers" can be found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is about 218 million miles from the sun, which it takes about 3 1/2 years to orbit. It was discovered in 1993 by E.F. Helin at the Palomar Observatory in California.

Musicians plan own fusion

Toronto -- Jazz star Diana Krall and new wave legend Elvis Costello are engaged to be married, reports the Toronto Star.

Diana's father, Jim Krall, said Thursday he didn't know any details about when or where the wedding might take place, but is "very happy" about the plan.

Rumors of a romance between Krall, 38, and Costello, 48, spread after the duo were spotted in January dining at a New York restaurant.

Better late than never

Charleston, W.Va. -- Fifty-two years after he left the former Morris Harvey College to pursue a political career, Sen. Robert C. Byrd is graduating.

The school, now called the University of Charleston, has awarded Byrd a bachelor of arts degree that he began work on in 1950.

Byrd can't attend Sunday's commencement because his wife, Erma, recently broke her hip. So UC President Ed Welch traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to present the degree to Byrd.

Byrd's name will be listed among the graduates of the Class of 2003.


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