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Chuck Yeager: I Got Screwed by Virgin

12/30/2009 11:50 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

General Chuck Yeager -- the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound -- is pissed off at an airline company that compared his death-defying accomplishment to in-flight Internet service.

Yeager filed a lawsuit against Virgin America, claiming he never gave them permission to use his name in a press release which stated, "Not unlike Buzz Aldrin or Chuck Yeager, you have the opportunity to be a part of a monumental moment in air travel. The communication highway now has wings with in-flight WiFi at every seat on every Virgin America flight..."

In the suit, filed yesterday in San Francisco County Superior Court, Yeager claims even if he did allow his name to be used -- he would require "a substantial sum."

Gen. Yeager is suing for unspecified damages -- but the coolest part of the suit mentions an event in October in which the 86-year-old icon flew "an F-16 aircraft at the speed of Mach 1.6, breaking the sound barrier once again."

Pretty badass.

UPDATE: A rep for Virgin America tells TMZ, "We regret the incident and plan to try and resolve this issue with General Yeager's attorneys."

36 COMMENTS

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1.

Matt    

I don't see anything in that quote where it looks like he is giving an endorsement. Even the worst comparisons to historical moments still allow for using words and names in a historical context.

Buzz Aldrin is either getting a bit senile or has gotten too high on his own supply with years of people massaging his ego. Get over it buddy.

1737 days ago
2.

Steve    

So...now if someone mentions something you did 60 years ago now requires a "substantial amount"?? Wow, looks like a LOT of history books are gonna have to pay up. The ad never said he endorsed anything about Virgin.

1737 days ago
3.

MightyMad    

1.Buzz Aldrin is either getting a bit senile or has gotten too high on his own supply with years of people massaging his ego. Get over it buddy.

Posted at 10:17AM on Dec 30th 2009 by matt
___________________________________________________

It's Chuck Yeager who's suing Virgin, not Aldrin.
Read the post before commenting next time, matt.

1737 days ago
4.

yme    

I used to work in PR. There is nothing wrong with what Virgin put out there. Wow. It's just sad now that thousands of dollars will be wasted fighting something which is just ridiculous.

1737 days ago
5.

Chris    

There's no way that suit holds water. Much as I respect General Yeager's accomplishments, companies can refer to him in his "historical context" all they want, as long as there is no implication of endorsement.

1737 days ago
6.

Steve    

Someone get the hook and yank Chuckie off the stage. He already had his turn in the spotlight. He's just pimping his legacy with this attention stunt. He should be proud of them mentioning him!

1737 days ago
7.

tenley    

I'm siding with Yeager. If he or anyone else were to throw around the names of any corporation when trying to make a profit (in a movie, book, whatever) you damn well better believe the company would come after that person for proper compensation.

1737 days ago
8.

Pat    

Being in the aviation business for a very long time. Yeager has always been known as a complete "A--Hole".

1737 days ago
9.

John    

As a lawyer myself, he's going to lose.

The use of his name is being used in the form of an editorial purpose, not commercial. It's in the same context as historians would use it when referring to his accomplishments.

This is why the U.S. justice system is broken -- too many frivolous lawsuits that tie things up for the rest of us. This guy should be in Florida enjoying his golden years wearing white tennis shoes and playing bridge with the rest of his age group.

1737 days ago
10.

tenley    

Virgin is trying to make a profit, it's not give a history lesson or using the names as fair game in a current news reference. Virgin is trying to make a buck and is invoking the names without permission and obviously without compensation. If the names didn't matter and Virgin thought only the historical reference would turn it a profit it wouldn't have used the names.

1737 days ago
11.

tenley    

Yep Virgin is obviously trying to sell it's new service by using the names in this context, it's hard to say it's not commercial use without permission.

1737 days ago
12.

KennyP    

Gosh ... Buzz and Chuck do have something in common: both were the SECOND to reach a milestone! (Look it up.)

1737 days ago
13.

Matt    

@MightyMad - Mixed up the names when typing but doesn't change my position in the least. Nitpicking comments when it's pretty obvious what the article was about gives some insight into why you chose that name.

1737 days ago
14.

wasted days and wasted nights    

Well, I think Sir Richard has a point--surfing the web on a plane fight is kinda like landing on the moon or breaking the sound barrier. I guess.

1737 days ago
15.

jus'sayin    

anything for a buck....lawsuit crazy people! What a shame & a waste of time

1737 days ago
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