Scott Crossfield Obit W200Tributes to the legendary test pilot Scott "Scottie" Crossfield have been paid by leading members of the US aerospace community after US authorities confirmed that he was killed in a general aviation accident in northern Georgia yesterday.

Crossfield, 84, had been piloting a Cessna 210A when it disappeared from radar screens around midday yesterday. Crossfield's family has confirmed that his body was found in the wreckage of the aircraft that came down near Ludville, Georgia, around 80km (49miles) northwest of Atlanta.

Crossfield, as test pilot for the US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' High-Speed Flight Station (NACAHSFS, now the NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility) at Edwards AFB, became the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound when he piloted the D-558-II Skyrocket to a speed of 1,120kt (2,075km/h), or Mach 2.005 in November 1953. He later became the first man to break and survive M3.

Prior to joining the NACAHSFS, Crossfield grew up in California and Washington state and served with the US Navy as a flight instructor and fighter pilot during the Second World War.

Later he was North American's chief engineering test pilot, where he helped design and fly the X-15 rocket-powered research aircraft.

NASA administrator Michael Griffin led the tributes to Crossfield, saying that he "was a true pioneer whose daring X-15 flights helped pave the way for the space shuttle."

Peter Jakab, chairman of the aeronautics division at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum says: "He was one of the greatest test pilots in the heroic days of test flying in the '50s and '60s at places like Edwards AFB".

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) says it "mourns the passing of this aerospace titan and true gentleman and extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and friends." Crossfield's achievements were recognised by AIAA with its highest designation of Honorary Fellow in 1999 and AIAA president Roger Simpson says, “Scott Crossfield was first and foremost an exceptional aviator. He not only conquered the speed of sound, he rose above the ordinary in all he did – whether in the air, the boardroom, on Capitol Hill or with school children".

Read Flight International's West Coast editor Guy Norris blog on what Scott Crossfield meant to him and to the aviation community in general

External links:
Read more about Scott Crossfield's life and experimental aircraft flights from Edwards ADFB site
or visit Scott Crossfield's official homepage

Source: Flight International