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for a brief moment, Gordon Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen." The following real people also appeared in archive footage: Ed Sullivan with Bill Dana (playing his character José Jiménez); Yuri Gagarin and Nikita Khrushchev seen embracing at a review, along with Georgi Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin, Kliment Voroshilov, and Anastas Mikoyan in attendance; and Lyndon B. In 1979, independent producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler outbid Universal Pictures for the movie rights to Tom Wolfe's book, Goldman was inspired to accept the job because he wanted to say something patriotic about America in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis.

In June 1980, United Artists agreed to finance the film up to million, and the producers began looking for a director.

The search for the first Americans in space excludes Yeager because he lacks a college degree.

Grueling physical and mental tests select the Mercury Seven astronauts, including John Glenn of the United States Marine Corps, Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra and Scott Carpenter of the United States Navy, as well as Cooper, Grissom and Slayton; they immediately become national heroes.

However, Russia beats them into space on April 12, 1961 with the launch of Vostok 1 carrying Yuri Gagarin into space.

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He, his colleagues, and their families become celebrities, including a gigantic celebration in the Sam Houston Coliseum to announce the opening of the Manned Space Center in Houston, despite Glenn's wife Annie's fear of public speaking due to a stutter.

Ridley cuts off part of a broomstick and tells Yeager to use it as a lever to help seal the hatch to the X-1, and Yeager becomes the first person to fly at supersonic speed, defeating the "demon in the sky".