"Tribute to Scott Crossfield"
Marion C. Blakey, Washington, DC
November 28, 2006

Engen Trophy Presentation


Thank you, Debbie [McElroy]. I agree with Debbie a hundred percent. When you’re talking about a lifetime of achievement in aviation, Scott Crossfield blazed a trail where few others ever could — or did.

The Crossfield story that sticks with me is one from Oshkosh, one of my favorite spots. Scott was approached somewhat sheepishly by a couple of Blackbird pilots. They were hoping to get an autograph, but they were a bit embarrassed to ask. What followed was a lengthy discussion of life at twice the speed of sound. But spending time with pilots, well, that’s just how Scott Crossfield was. If he wasn’t flying, he was talking about flying. The chat with those SR-71 pilots took an hour. I think about that when I see celebrities brushing by people who’ve waited hours just for a glimpse.

Scott Crossfield never jumped on a couch on national TV. He never threw a cell phone at a hotel desk clerk. Let me tell you:  the history books are where you‘ll find Scott.

Although known best for his extraordinary work as a test pilot, Scott described himself as an aeronautical engineer, an aerodynamicist and a designer. He was responsible for many of the operational and safety features incorporated into the X-15 and later was responsible for systems test, reliability engineering and quality assurance for the Hound Dog missile, Paraglider, Apollo Command and Service Module and Saturn V second stage. In a 1988 interview, he said, “My flying was only primarily because I felt it was essential to designing and building better airplanes for pilots to fly.”

A pilot’s pilot, he was always looking at the sky. No stunt double for him. In one of the great debates made for a Saturday at the FBO, Scott Crossfield’s got to be on that list of the best who ever did it. I tell you this right now:  He’s on my list.

Let me say that through it all, Scott Crossfield was a gentleman. He never lost touch with the thrill of lift off. He never lost touch with the people for whom top speed came in a Piper Cub.

We’re here today to salute a life well lived — an unparalleled career — and the memory of one of the best that ever was. Susan [Crossfield],you should be rightly proud of your father. I know we all are.

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