Aviation Legend Scott Crossfield In Fatal Crash
Crossfield pictured during flight training for the EAAWright Flyer in 2003.
Scott Crossfield at the X-15 mock-up display at the EAA AirVenture Museum.
Crossfield pictured with SpaceShipOne while at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005.
April 20, 2006 — EAA is extremely saddened at the loss of legendary aviation pioneer Scott Crossfield, EAA 430120, who died when his Cessna 210 crashed Wednesday after encountering severe weather north of Atlanta, Georgia. Crossfield, a former test pilot and the first person to successfully fly at both Mach 2 and Mach 3, took off from Prattville, Alabama, around 9 a.m. Wednesday en route to Manassas, Virginia. Atlanta ATC reportedly lost contact with Crossfield near Ludville, Georgia late Wednesday morning, and Civil Air Patrol searchers and others discovered the wreckage of the plane early Thursday afternoon near Ranger, Georgia, about 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Crossfield, who lived in Herndon, Virginia, was 84.
"Scott certainly earned his place of honor among the greatest pilots in aviation history," said EAA president Tom Poberezny. "We were proud to have him as an EAA member, and he was an active participant in EAA activities and programs from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh to the Countdown to Kitty Hawk program in 2003.
"We were also very proud and humbled by Scott's expressions of respect toward EAA and its members through the years. We are, of course, devastated by this loss and will miss him very much."
Crossfield was the featured guest speaker at EAA's annual Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet last December 17. (EAA Members, view a video stream of his speech on the EAA Members website) Two years earlier, Crossfield was chief flight instructor for the 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction that served as centerpiece to EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk celebration at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.
He also came to Oshkosh to launch EAA's full-size X-15 mock-up exhibit featured at EAA AirVenture Museum in 2001-2002. Over the years, Crossfield became a fixture at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, delivering numerous forums and presentations about his storied aviation career. His evening program last year with civilian astronaut Mike Melvill was among the most popular events of the 2005 convention.
"Scott's legacy transcends the aviation records he set," Poberezny said. "He was known in the halls of Congress, by the giants of aviation industry, and by the military and test pilot communities. His impact stretched to all segments of aviation and is a testament to the respect he had earned."
In 1950, Crossfield joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station (now the NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility) at Edwards Air Force Base, California as an aeronautical research pilot. Over the next five years, he flew nearly all of the experimental aircraft under test at Edwards, including the X-1, XF-92, X-4, X-5, D-558-I and the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. On November 20, 1953, he became the first person to fly at twice the speed of sound as he piloted the Skyrocket to a speed of 1,291 mph (Mach 2.005). With 99 flights in the rocket-powered X-1 and D-558-II, he had far more experience with rocketplanes than any other pilot in the world.
Crossfield left Edwards in 1955 to become chief engineering test pilot at North American Aviation. There he played a major role in the design and development of the X-15, in which he made 13 powered flights including one official and one unofficial in excess of Mach 3.
Among his countless honors, Scott Crossfield has received the Lawrence Sperry Award, Octave Chanute Award, Iven C. Kincheloe Award, Harmon International Trophy, and the Collier Trophy. He has been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame (1983), the International Space Hall of Fame (1988), and the Aerospace Walk of Honor (1990).