On Nov. 20, 1953, Crossfield (1921-2006) became the first human to reach Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) in the air-launched, rocket-propelled D-558-2.
On Dec. 10, 1960, Crossfield became the first human to fly three times the speed of sound, in a North American Aviation X-15 – which he helped design and engineer – reaching a top speed of more than 2,000 miles per hour.
Crossfield is one of America’s earliest rocket test pilots. While working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, now NASA, Crossfield test flew aircraft such as the F-100 Super Sabre and the F-102 supersonic fighters; the X-1, X-4 and X-5 rocket planes; and the Douglas 558-2 Skyrocket.
Crossfield lost his life in a crash of a civilian aircraft in 2006.