“The hangar wall was Crossfield’s.”
On this day in 1954, U.S. Air Force test pilot Scott Crossfield – who’s on our list of best all-time pilots - suffered an engine failure in an early North American F-100 Super Sabre and landed safely on the ramp at Edwards AFB, California. “I then proceeded to violate a cardinal rule of aviation: never try tricks with a compromised airplane,” wrote Crossfield in his autobiography.
“The F-100 was still rolling at a fast clip, coming up fast on the NACA ramp, when I made my poor decision….I would snake the stricken F-100 right up the ramp and bring it to a stop immediately in front of the NACA hangar. This trick, which I had performed so often in the Skyrocket, was a fine touch. After the first successful dead-stick landing in an F-100, it would be fitting.”
….“The plane slowed, but not quite enough. I was still inching ahead ponderously, like a diesel locomotive. I hit the brakes a fourth time—and my foot went clear to the floorboards. The hydraulic fluid was exhausted. The F-100 rolled on, straight between the yawning hangar doors!”
The F-100 impacted, giving us the iconic photo. The aircraft was quickly repaired and no harm was done to Crossfield’s career, save that fellow test pilot Chuck Yeager often teased: “The sonic wall was mine. The hangar wall was Crossfield’s.”