Air Force Flight Test Center commander Brig. Gen. Robert Nolan and other base officials unveil the Crossfield Drive street sign in honor of the late NACA research test pilot Scott Crossfield Jan. 18. (NASA / Tony Landis)› View Larger Image
Edwards Street Dedicated to Honor Scott Crossfield
Brig. Gen. Robert C. Nolan II, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, and other base dignitaries dedicated a street to honor the late NACA research test pilot A. Scott Crossfield during ceremonies Jan. 18. The former Crest Drive was renamed Crossfield Drive at its intersection with Doolittle Parkway near the base housing area.
Crossfield became the first pilot to reach Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound – in the Douglas D-558-II rocket plane on Nov. 20, 1953. He flew more rocket-powered flights in the X-1 and D-558-II – 87 in all – during a five-year stint as a research pilot at the NACA's High-Speed Flight Station – now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center -- at Edwards from 1950 through 1955.
Crossfield later helped design the cockpit and was responsible for many of the operational and safety features incorporated into the famed X-15 rocket plane while employed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s. He flew the first 14 developmental demonstration flight tests of the first two X-15s before they were turned over to the Air Force and NASA for the joint X-15 hypersonic flight research program.
"When you talk about Scott Crossfield, think about the sacrifices and the risk that he took," said Gen. Nolan. "Think about flying Mach 2 in the 1950s. Think about 100 rocket-powered flights.
"Think about the first flight in the X-15," he added. "Think about taking the X-15 out to Mach 2.97. Think about a career dedicated to aviation – dedicated to influencing young men and women to seek careers in aviation and that service."
In presentations before an International Test and Evaluation Association luncheon prior to the dedication ceremony and at NASA Dryden afterward, retired NASA Dryden research pilot Edward Schneider detailed Crossfield's contributions to the advancement of aeronautics and flight research, calling Crossfield "a humble man whose accomplishments spoke volumes."
"Scott had joined NACA at a time when the United States was fully committed to exploring the world of supersonic flight and pushing the speed and the altitude of manned airplanes to numbers that were really the stuff of fiction in 1945," Schneider recalled. "Additionally, with his 87 rocket-powered flights in the X-1 and the D-558-II, he had become the world's most experienced pilot of rocket-powered aircraft by a very wide margin."
Crossfield received the 1961 Harmon Trophy and the 1962 Collier Trophy, the most prestigious awards for advancements in aeronautics, from President John F. Kennedy in White House ceremonies.
"We pilots think of him as one of the best to ever strap on an airplane," Schneider reflected. "And perhaps I remember him best as an American hero who always came across as an unassuming, well-mannered gentleman. That's not always the case."
Retired NASA Dryden research pilot Ed Schneider gave tribute to the late NACA research test pilot Scott Crossfield during presentations at Edwards Air Force Base and at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Jan. 18 in connection with the dedication of an Edwards street in Crossfield's honor. (NASA / Tony Landis) › View Larger Image
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