According to CBS news,
Scott Crossfield, the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound, routinely climbed into some of the most powerful, dangerous and complex aircraft of his time.
This week, the 84-year-old Crossfield was piloting a single-engine Cessna 210A when it dropped off radar screens on a flight from Alabama to Virginia. His body was found in wreckage Thursday in the mountains about 50 miles northwest of Atlanta, authorities said.
I looked up Crossfield and found this on the Edwards Airforce Base website:
On Nov. 20, 1953, (Crossfield) became the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound as he piloted the Skyrocket to a speed of 1,291 mph (Mach 2.005). With 99 flights in the rocket-powered X-1 and D-558-II, he had — by a wide margin — more experience with rocketplanes than any other pilot in the world by the time he left Edwards to join North American Aviation in 1955. As North American's chief engineering test pilot, he played a major role in the design and development of the X-15 and its systems.
On June 8, 1959, he completed the airplane's first flight, an unpowered glide from 37,550 feet. On Sept. 17, 1959, he completed the first powered flight. Shortly after launch on his third flight, one of these engines exploded. Crossfield was forced to make an emergency landing during which the excessive load on the aircraft broke its back just behind the cockpit. He was uninjured and the airplane was repaired.
He went on to complete 16 captive carry (mated to the B-52 launch aircraft), one glide and 13 powered flights in the X-15. On Dec. 6, 1960, he brought North American's demonstration program to a successful conclusion as he completed his final flight in the X-15.
How fast did Crossfield go versus other test pilots? Here's a good listing I found with top airplane speeds. According to this list, Crossfield is at the top, if he piloted the X-15 to Mach 6.72 (that's incredibly fast!) The X-43 is the new NASA scramjet.
All of these are pretty darn fast. It's funny that except for the X-43, the other very fast planes are designs of the 1950s and 1960s.
|1.||X-43 (Unmanned)||Mach 9.8||110,000 feet|
|2.||X-15||Mach 6.72||354,200 feet|
|3.||SR-71 Blackbird (YF-12)||Mach 3.2+||85,000+ feet|
|4.||MiG-25R Foxbat-B||Mach 3.2||123,524 feet|
|4.||X-2||Mach 3.2||126,200 feet|
|5.||XB-70 Valkyrie||Mach 3.1||77,350 feet|
|6.||MiG-31 Foxhound||Mach 2.83||67,600 feet|
|7.||MiG-25 Foxbat (Ye-155)||Mach 2.8||118,900 feet|
|8.||F-15 Eagle||Mach 2.5||60,000 feet|
|8.||F-111 Aardvark||Mach 2.5||60,000+ feet|
|9.||X-1||Mach 2.435||90,440 feet|
|10.||Su-24 Fencer||Mach 2.4||57,400 feet|
|11.||Tu-144 Charger||Mach 2.35||59,055 feet|
|11.||MiG-23 Flogger||Mach 2.35||60,700 feet|
|11.||Su-27 Flanker||Mach 2.35||59,055 feet|
|12.||F-14A Tomcat||Mach 2.34||58,000+ feet|
|13.||F-106 Delta Dart||Mach 2.31||57,000 feet|
|14.||IAI Kfir||Mach 2.3||75,000 feet|
|14.||English Electric Lightning||Mach 2.3||60,000 feet|
|14.||MiG-29 Fulcrum||Mach 2.3||59,060 feet|
|14.||F-107 Ultra Sabre||Mach 2.3||48,000 feet|
|15.||Tornado ADV||Mach 2.2||69,997 feet|
|15.||F-4 Phantom||Mach 2.2||62,250 feet|
|15.||Mirage 2000||Mach 2.2||59,055 feet|
|15.||F-104 Starfighter||Mach 2.2||58,000 feet|
(120,800 feet NF-104A)