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Aviation loses one of it's heros....


TRIBE Member
Crossfield had `right stuff'
Apr. 21, 2006. 01:00 AM

RANGER, Ga.—Scott Crossfield, the hotshot test pilot and aircraft designer who in 1953 became the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound, was killed in the crash of his small plane, authorities said yesterday. He was 84.

Crossfield's body was found in the wreckage yesterday in the mountains about 80 kilometres northwest of Atlanta, a day after the single-engine plane he was flying dropped off radar screens on a flight from Alabama to Virginia. There were thunderstorms in the area at the time.

The cause of the crash was under investigation. Crossfield was believed to be the only person aboard.

During the 1950s, Crossfield embodied what author Tom Wolfe called "the right stuff" in his book by the same name, duelling the better-known Chuck Yeager for supremacy among America's Cold War test pilots. Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947; only weeks after Crossfield reached Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound, Yeager outdid him.

The Cessna 210A in which Crossfield died was a puny flying machine compared with the rocket-powered aircraft he flew as a test pilot. During his heyday, he routinely climbed into some of the most powerful, most dangerous and most complex pieces of machinery of his time, took them to their performance limits or beyond — or "pushed the envelope," as test pilots put it — and brought them back to Earth in one piece.

"He's really one of the major figures," said Peter Jakab, aerospace chairman at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. "He was not only the great cutting-edge research pilot ... but after that, he continued to be a great adviser and participant in all aspects of aerospace.''

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin hailed him as "a true pioneer whose daring X-15 flights helped pave the way for the space shuttle.''

Crossfield was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983.
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