© Don Logan
(used with permission)
A. Scott Crossfield, 84 ( AOPA 1043507), a test pilot who set the criteria that made the first manned space flights possible, died in the crash of his 1960 Cessna 210 Wednesday near convective weather over northern Georgia.
The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) located the wreckage near Ranger, Georgia. He was flying from Prattville, Alabama, to Manassas, Virginia, but radar contact with the Atlanta Air Traffic Control Center was lost at 11:14 a.m. EDT near Ludville, Georgia (six miles from Ranger). Crossfield was alone in the aircraft.
"No one loved flying more than Scott Crossfield," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "I've known him since I first came to Washington. I can't think of anyone with more varied aviation experience.
"And while we don't know yet what caused the accident, it certainly gives us all pause to remember that weather is no respecter of experience or fame.
"When I last saw him at the Northwest Aviation Conference in Puyallup, Washington, he talked about how much AOPA meant to him personally and to general aviation," said Boyer. "We have lost a true pioneer, a friend, and a gentleman."
In 1953 Crossfield became the first pilot to exceed Mach 2 and achieved the record in a Douglas D-558-2 rocket plane.
He was the first to fly the North American X-15 rocket plane but was told in his contract to keep it low and slow - no faster than Mach 3 and no higher than 100,000 feet. Other pilots took the aircraft to Mach 6.7 and as high as 354,000 feet.
He survived an explosion while sitting in an X-15 that blew apart on the test stand.
Crossfield, who worked for years on the staff of the House Science and Technology Committee, was responsible for training pilots who flew a 1903 Wright Flyer replica at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of flight.
He was a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol and established the CAP's A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year Award.
For more information on Scott Crossfield, see this profile published in 2003 in AOPA Pilot magazine.
April 20, 2006