Scott Crossfield: A Pilot’s Pilot – Airplanes

Two weeks ago, we lost Scott Crossfield at the age of 84, a renowned test pilot and the first to fly at twice the speed of sound in 1960 when he flew the X-15 rocket plane. Tom Wolfe recognized the courage of people like Crossfield who put their lives on the line to advance aviation, and made them famous in his novel, The Right Stuff that was later adapted for film. Is it ironic then, that Crossfield died in a popular civilian aircraft during a routine cross-country flight, or is it the equivalent of an old soldier dying in his sleep?

Before his Cessna 210-A crashed in the Georgia mountains, I wonder what went through his mind on that final flight as he flew at 11,500 feet. The altitude could hardly compare to the 81,000 feet he reached with the X-15, but was it any less enjoyable for him?