Today in History – April 19, 2006 – F-100 Test pilot Albert Scott Crossfield is killed in aviation accident

Albert Scott Crossfield, Jr., was born at Berkeley, California, 2 October 1921. At the age of 5, he contracted pneumonia and fell into a coma. He was not expected to survive. His condition improved and he was confined to bed for many months. Effects of the illness lasted throughout his childhood.

It was during his convalescence that he developed his interest in aviation. He learned to draw, studied airplanes, and built scale models. Charles F. (“Carl”) Lienesch, who was a pilot for the Union Oil Company, gave Scotty his first ride aboard an airplane at age 6. As a teenager, he took flight lessons in an Inland Sportster at the Wilmington Airport. (1)

Scott Crossfield served as a Navy pilot in WWII. In 1950, he joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the predecessor of NASA) as an Aeronautical Research Pilot at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station, Edwards Air Force Base, California. He flew many high-performance jet aircraft like the North American Aviation F-100 Super Sabre, and experimental airplanes such as the Convair XF-92, Douglas X-3, Bell X-4, and X-5. He also flew the research rocket planes, making 10 rocket flights in the Bell X-1 and 77 in the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. (1)

In September 1954, Crossfield was forced to make a deadstick landing in the North American F-100 Super Sabre he was evaluating at the High-Speed Flight Station (now the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center), a feat which North American’s own test pilots doubted could be done, as the F-100 had a high landing speed. Crossfield made a perfect approach and touchdown, but was unable to bring the unpowered aircraft to a halt in a safe distance, and was forced to use the wall of the NACA hangar as a makeshift brake after narrowly missing several parked experimental aircraft (“with great precision,” as he later wryly joked). Crossfield was uninjured, and the F-100 was later repaired and returned to service.[4] Crossfield left NACA in 1955.[5]

After his involvement in the  X-15 program, in the late ’60s Crossfield served as an executive with Eastern Air Lines and Hawker Siddeley. He also continued as an aeronautical engineering consultant to private industry and government.

In the 1980’s he returned to flying and bought a 1960 Cessna 210A Centurion. He had flown more than 2,000 hours in this airplane when it crashed during a severe thunderstorm on April 19, 2006.

Albert Scott Crossfield, Jr., was killed in that crash. His remains are interred at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

(1) Source: excerpted from © 2018, Bryan R. Swopes, Today in Aviation History

Other info from Wikipedia

Recommended reading (suggested by Bryan Swopes): Always Another Dawn: The Story Of A Rocket Test Pilot, by Albert Scott Crossfield and Clay Blair, Jr., The World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, 1960.

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