Sun, Jul 20, 2003
John Glenn: "We're Not Heroes"
They were all aviation
pioneers with "The Right Stuff," gathered at the National Aviation
Hall of Fame in Dayton (OH) to celebrate the first 100 years of
powered flight. Even the likes of Neil Armstrong and John
Glenn were humbled by the gathering.
"These are all people who did their duty, were proud of it, and
they're being honored for it," said Glenn (right), the first
American to orbit the Earth. He said many of those attending the
banquet Friday night were simply aviators who were called upon to
do extraordinary things.
Speaking in the Wright brothers' hometown, Scott Crossfield, the
first man ever to fly at more than twice the speed of sound, said,
"The Wright brothers gave me the best vocation a man ever
had." In 1953, Crossfield broke the airspeed record by flying
at Mach 2 over the desert at Edwards Air Force Base (CA).
"The airplane I did it in really had no right to be that fast,"
Crossfield said. Every hole in the aircraft was taped up to reduce
drag and the fuel was cooled down to squeeze a few more gallons
into the tank. Then there was the weather which, on that day 50
years ago, was unusually cooperative. "It was a good cold day, and
the winds were right in the direction I was going," he said.
Crossfield (right), 82,
said he felt nothing as his Skyhawk reached Mach 2, but was
thrilled by the experience nonetheless. "I never made any
money in this business. I didn't get around to that," said
Crossfield, 82. "But I'm one of the richest men — the kind of
people, the experience that you have, the opportunity."
Crossfield was in Dayton with 21 other aviation trailblazers who
are among the 178 inductees into the National Aviation Hall Of
Fame. Neil Armstrong will go on to Oshkosh later this month,
where he'll be one of the featured speakers at the EAA's Airventure
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