FAA's Blakey: "The History Books Are Where You'll Find
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was present Tuesday as Sally
Crossfield, the daughter of accomplished test pilot Scott
Crossfield, accepted the Aero Club of Washington's Donald D. Engen
Trophy for Aviation Excellence in her father's honor. The aviation
community lost Scott this year, the victim of an encounter with
nasty weather over Georgia in April.
The unedited text of the Administrator's brief, but
poignant, speech at the presentation follows below.
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
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
We’re here today to salute a life well lived -- an
unparalleled career -- and the memory of one of the best that ever
was. Sally [Crossfield], you should be rightly proud of your
father. I know we all are.