Segments in this Video

Albert Scott Crossfield: Introduction (01:27)


Crossfield dominated the field of testing, flew all of the X-planes, and was the first man to break Mach 2 and Mach 3. Crossfield was a consulting engineer for NASA and helped design rockets and command modules.

Crossfield's Youth (01:47)

Crossfield was born in California in 1921. He contracted rheumatic fever at a young age. By the age of 12, he worked at Wilmington Airport and received flying lessons. In 1935, the Crossfields moved to a farm in Washington.

Early Military Career (04:24)

Crossfield joined the Civilian Pilot Training Program, studied engineering at the University of Washington, and worked at Boeing. He enlisted in the Navy, becoming a gunnery instructor, and joined Air Group 51 for combat training. The atomic bomb ended the war before he saw combat.

Post-war Career (03:05)

Crossfield joined the naval reserve, led a Corsair aerobatics team, and returned to college. He became the chief wind tunnel operator at the University of Washington, before finding a job as a test pilot with NACA.

Test Pilot (01:44)

Crossfield flew the Skystreak, the Skylancer, and the D-558-2 Skyrocket. In 1951, he flew the X-1. Ice covered the windshield and Crossfield used a sock to clear the window; he landed safely.

Testing Evolution (02:31)

During the 1950s, testing at Edwards Air Force Base changed. In addition to test flying, Crossfield became more involved with design and theory. In 1953, he flew the Skyrocket at Mach 2 and Mach 3. When landing an F-100, the brakes failed and Crossfield crashed into the hangar.

Rocket Plane (03:32)

Crossfield and Walt Williams began designing a plane that could handle a 75,000 pound thrust from a rocket engine. Crossfield followed the X-15 from conception to testing.

X-15 Project (02:08)

NASA gained ownership of the project, but it was not its main focus. Testing continued and the plane regularly flew above 50 km. Crossfield had a contentious relationship with NASA.

Later Career (02:07)

Crossfield won the International Harmon Trophy and became the Director of Space and Missile System Tests at North American. He warned NASA about the use of pressurized pure oxygen in launch training. Crossfield became Director of Flight Research at Eastern Airlines and a technical consultant to the House of Representatives.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Albert Scott Crossfield (00:29)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: Albert Scott Crossfield

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Legends of Air Power: Albert Scott Crossfield

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
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Albert Scott Crossfield’s military career spanned from flight and gunnery instructor to test pilot and record-breaking flyer. After attending an experimental flight test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, the outbreak of the Korean War left him to take full responsibility for the Edwards test program. Under his leadership, the program flourished. Undaunted by any plane, he made his first flight in the X-1 rocket plane in 1951 and when the windshield iced over, he used his own sock to clear a hole large enough to allow him to land the plane safely. The X-15 became Crossfield’s pet project and on November 15, 1960, Crossfield exceeded Mach 3, becoming the first man to accomplish such a feat and live to tell about it.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129043

ISBN: 978-1-64023-491-8

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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