General “Pete” Everest was born in Fairmont on August 10, 1920. A pioneer pilot of rocket planes, Everest once earned the nickname of “the fastest man alive.”
During World War II, he first flew in the European Theater, completing 94 combat missions. Everest later flew 67 combat missions in the China-Burma-India region. During this time, he destroyed four Japanese aircraft before being shot down in May 1945.
He spent the last few months of the war as a Japanese prisoner of war.
After the war, he logged more than 10,000 hours in about 170 aircraft types as an Air Force test pilot. Everest piloted both the Bell X-1 and X-2 rocket planes, set an X-1 altitude record, and, in 1953, broke the world speed record of the F-100A at more than 750 miles per hour. In 1956, he flew the X-2 at Mach 3, exceeding 1,900 miles per hour and breaking the record of his rival and fellow West Virginian, Chuck Yeager.
Pete Everest became a brigadier general in 1965 and retired from the Air Force eight years later. He died in Arizona in 2004 at age 84.