Albert Scott Crossfield Indiana Gazette Indiana, Pennsylvania September 19, 1988 Page 4, Column 5
Legendary test pilot killed in crash •yMWSTWT New York Times News Service WASHINGTON — Scott Crossfield, a legendary test pilot of the post-World War II era who was the first person to fly twice the speed of sound, was killed Wednesday morning when his plane crashed in northern Georgia. He was 84. Crossfield, who lived in Hemdon, Va., just outside Washington, was on a flight from Prattville, Ala., to Manassas, Va., when his single-engine craft went down, the Civil Air Patrol said on Thursday. There were thunderstorms in the area at the time. Crossfield was in good health and good spirits before making the flight, his son-in-law Ed Fleming said on Thursday in a telephone interview. Crossfield, who was an aeronautical engineer, belonged to the small pantheon of envelope-pushing aviators whose exploits were told in Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff." Another, of course, was Chuck Yeager, who in 1947 became the first pilot to break the sound barrier. On Nov. 20, 1953, Crossfield became the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound. At the controls of a rocket-powered Douglas D-558-2 that had been dropped from a B-29 mother ship at 32,000 feet, Crossfield climbed to 72,000 feet, then dived to 62,000 feet, where his speed topped 1,320 miles per hour. At the time of his record- breaking flight, Crossfield was flying out of Edwards Air Force Base in California for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In his five years with the committee, Crossfield logged far more time in the cockpits of rocket-powered aircraft than any other pilot. In 1955, Crossfield became the chief test pilot for North American Aviation, where he was the consultant for the X-.15, a rocket-powered craft designed to fly to the fringes of space at several times the speed of sound. On June 8, 1959, he SCOII CMSSRELB ...broke the sound barrier made the first of his two dozen flights in theX-15, one of which took him to 1,960 mph — almost three times the speed of sound — and 88,116 feet above the Earth, according to NASA. He had two brushes with death in the X-15. On his third flight, one of the craft's two rocket engines blew up. In the emergency landing, the plane snapped in two just behind the cockpit. Crossfield was not hurt. Months later, an X-15 engine exploded during a ground test while he was in the cockpit. Again, he walked away. Crossfield later became an engineer and researcher for North American. From 1967 to 1973, he was an executive for Eastern Air Lines. In 1974 and 1975, he was senior vice president for Hawker Sidddey Aviation. From 1977 until retiring in 1993, he was a consultant to the House Committee on Science and Technology. Albert Scott Crossfield was born in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 2, 1921. When he was 12, he took his first flying lessons, at a small airport in Wilmington, Calif., where he washed planes to pay for his time in the air, he recalled in a 2001 interview with AVWeb, an Internet aviation magazine. He was a Navy fighter pilot and instructor during World War II.