Ribbon cuttings are, by their very nature, pretty boring affairs.
A bunch of officials line up, some speeches are made and then the top-ranking official — usually the mayor — uses a giant pair of scissors to cut a ribbon and declare a building or a business officially open.
At this year’s Sun ‘n Fun, there was the usual pomp surrounding the opening of the Buehler Restoration Annex, which is home to several classrooms that hosted workshops during the week-long fly-in and will be used throughout the year for the organization’s continuing education programs.
What made this ribbon cutting special is that the building sits along the newly-christened Scott Crossfield Way, dedicated in honor of the veteran aviator who sadly passed away last year.
“Scott was very special to all of us,” said Bill Eickhoff, Sun ‘n Fun chairman. “He was here almost every year.”
Naming the road, which cuts through the core education area of the Sun ‘n Fun campus, after Crossfield is a great way to honor his efforts, especially those focused on education, Eickhoff noted.
Crossfield died April 19 after encountering a Level 6 thunderstorm over Georgia while flying his Cessna 210 toward Virginia.
Crossfield was the first person to fly at twice the speed of sound and later, depending on the source, either broke Mach 3 or reached Mach 2.97 in the X-15. Either way, he became the era’s “fastest man alive.” He set the Mach 2 record in 1953, when he reached 1,320 mph in the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. In 1960, he flew the X-15 to Mach 3 (or maybe Mach 2.97) after launching from a B-52, reaching a then-record altitude of 81,000 feet. At the time, he was working as a pilot and design consultant for North American Aviation, which built the X-15.
Crossfield became one of a group of civilian pilots assembled by the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, the forerunner of NASA, in the early 1950s. In 1959, NASA selected its first group of seven astronauts. Crossfield never applied, though he did some engineering work on the Apollo space program.
In later years, he trained the pilots to fly Ken Hyde’s Wright Flyer, which flew at Kitty Hawk in December 2003, to mark the 100th anniversary of flight.
In 1986, he created the A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Teacher of the Year Award, which includes a $1,000 stipend. Teachers’ expenses also are paid so they can attend the National Congress on Aerospace Education.
“The idea is to give an award to classroom teachers because I want to reach young people,” Crossfield told General Aviation News in October, 2003. “That’s where the rubber meets the road — if you reach a lot of kids. The idea is to reward achievers and to encourage further achievement and it’s worked beautifully.
“Aviation’s been very good to me,” he continued, “and I surely know my teachers were good to me.”
The National Hall of Fame recently was appointed to serve as steward of the prestigious award.
Crossfield was a “motivator” of the many education programs at Sun ‘n Fun, noted John Burton, president.
Sun ‘n Fun officials were deliberate in naming the street Scott Crossfield Way. “We’ve got to focus on the way,” Eickhoff said.
While Crossfield was the motivator, the Emil Buehler Trust provided the means for the Buehler Restoration Center and its annex. Also helping fund the annex’s refurbishing was a grant from the Florida Cultural Trust, according to Burton.
The Buehler Trust was started by Emil Buehler, a German immigrant who was a pioneer in aeronautics. He was actively involved in aviation in New Jersey in the 1920s and 1930s, including owning the airport in Teterboro. His involvement in aviation eventually included funding a wind tunnel for testing space vehicles that became known as the Emil Buehler Mach 3 wind tunnel.
He died in 1983 and his trust was created in 1985. Since then, it has donated more than $23 million towards projects at EAA Oshkosh, the National Air & Space Museum, and the restoration of a Grumman G-21 Goose, which now sits in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport.
The Buehler Restoration Center is used to restore and maintain aircraft, as well as teach the arts of restoration, welding, composites and more to the next generation, according to Burton. The annex includes classrooms that focus on wood working, avionics/electrical, composites and more.
“This will evolve into quite a facility,” promised Eickhoff. “One day it will be part of a much larger landscape. We’re setting the tone for the future.”
For more information: