05/01/06 — Scott Crossfield: A great aviator dies in a crash

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Scott Crossfield: A great aviator dies in a crash

The timing would not have been of his choosing, of course. But Scott Crossfield probably went out the way he would have preferred — at the controls of an airplane.

One of the original pilots with “the right stuff,” Crossfield was killed in late April when his Cessna 210A crashed in the Georgia mountains during a thunderstorm.

He was 84.

His buddy Chuck Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier. But Crossfield was the first to go twice the speed of sound.

Both repeatedly took innovatively designed experimental aircraft and took them on flights to test their maximum endurance and performance. “Pushing the envelope,” they called it.

In some such tests, the aircraft went beyond their maximum.

But Crossfield and Yeager — who once commanded the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base — were regarded as unsurpassed in their abilities to get the very most out of aircraft and out of themselves.

Both also had a great respect and appreciation for North Carolina’s aviation heritage.

Crossfield was a principal promoter of the effort to have a replica of the Wright Flier take off from Kitty Hawk on the 100th anniversary of manned flight.

But weather did not cooperate with that effort.

And weather — so often the nemesis of aviators — apparently had a role in that flight Scott Crossfield made from a field in Alabama on an April night ... and never reached his intended destination.

Published in Editorials on May 1, 2006 9:46 AM