MOJAVE, CA—Chuck Yeager, the stoic, hard-living, daredevil Air Force test pilot whose never-say-die approach and fearless pushing of the limits of human achievement were immortalized in Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, died in a dramatic wall of flames Monday when a malfunction occurred in the electronic components of his kitchen’s microwave oven. Yeager—who had survived high-speed stress-induced blackouts, engine burnouts and experimental-jet crash landings to set altitude and speed records, including his legendary 1947 breaking of the sound barrier—was reportedly toasting several bite-sized pizza pockets at the time of the equipment breakdown. "Chuck could’ve gotten out," retired Air Force captain and longtime Yeager friend Vernon Sawyer said. "But he insisted on finishing what he set out to do: heat and consume those snack-food items. He was very brave."