Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
TRIBUTE TO SCOTT ANDERSON
(Extensions of Remarks - March 25, 1999)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E578] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] TRIBUTE TO SCOTT ANDERSON ______ HON. JAMES L. OBERSTAR of minnesota in the house of representatives Thursday, March 25, 1999 Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Scott Anderson, a Duluth resident and pioneer in general aviation. On March 23rd, Scott died at the age of 33 following a tragic crash that occurred while he was testing a new aircraft in Northern Minnesota. Scott was fatally injured when the first SR20 airplane to come off Cirrus Design's production line, which he was piloting, crashed just short of the Duluth International Airport. The plane crash is not only a serious disappointment for Cirrus Design, but is also a tragedy for general aviation aircraft development, testing and evaluation--the most critical phase of bringing a new type and model of aircraft into the mainstream of aviation. A major in the Air National Guard, Scott was an experienced test pilot who flew F-16s for the military, in addition to his job as Director of Flight Operations and Chief Test Pilot for Cirrus Design. Test pilots are heroes of aviation who pioneer the testing of new, pre- production aircraft to ensure that all systems comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Scott made history last year when he piloted the SR20 during the first test of an innovative parachute recovery system; ironically, that safety device was not on board the aircraft he was flying at the time of the crash. While we must await the evaluation and findings of the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the causes of the crash, we know that Scott did everything humanly possible to bring the plane down safely so that innocent lives on the ground would not be lost. I offer my heartfelt sympathy to Scott's wife, Laurie, his parents, Paul and Carol, and siblings, Catherine and Todd Anderson, as well as to the Cirrus Design team, for their loss. I hope, in their grief, they know that Scott made a profound difference to the State of Minnesota and to the national aviation community. As a tribute to the memory and contribution Scott made to general aviation, which will benefit future generations, I submit an article written by Sam Cook that appeared in the Duluth News Tribune on March 24, 1999. Mr. Cook is a talented writer who knew Scott Anderson for many years and with whom he shared a love of Minnesota's great outdoors. [From the Duluth News Tribune, Mar. 24, 1999] Anderson Blessed Others With Life (By Sam Cook) I can't recall exactly how Scott Anderson came into my life. He just appeared, and once Scott Anderson appears in your life it's never quite the same. He and his friend Steve Baker were planning a canoe trip from Duluth to Hudson Bay. This was 1987. They were college kids home for the summer, and they didn't know exactly what they were getting into, but of course that didn't matter. They were going to go no matter what. As I recall, they borrowed a canoe that had been cracked up and patched back together. I thought they might drown the day they left Duluth, Lake Superior was kicking up, but they were behind schedule so they made a break for it. They ended up portaging their canoe along Minnesota Highway 61 to jump-start that trip, and you could see that nothing else was going to hold them back. The trip was a throwback to the old Eric Sevareid and Walter Port trip that Sevareid turned into his classic book, ``Canoeing with the Cree.'' Scott and Steve made Hudson Bay, all right, and it came as only a mild surprise when Scott returned and said he was going to write a book about the experience. He had already built a submarine at college and paddled a broken boat to Hudson Bay. Why couldn't he write a book? He did, of course. And he learned to fly an F-16. And next thing you knew he was test flying airplanes for Cirrus Design. Scott was one of the most engaging people you could ever hope to meet. He was big and blond and nearly bald, or else his hair was just so light you couldn't see it. I never was sure. But he had a countenance that told you he could handle anything that came his way, probably without blinking. And that smile, When he unfurled that grin, a whole bunch of happiness spilled into the room and you felt better just for being in the man's presence. He had some devilment in there, too, but only the harmless kind. There couldn't have been an ounce of meanness in that guy. Once, out of the blue, he called and asked me if I wanted to be part of a race. He's been scheming again. There would be four of us, in two canoes, he said. The two-person teams would leave Duluth bound for different ends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We'd drive north, put in, paddle across the wilderness, exchange car keys somewhere in the middle, paddle out and drive back. First one back to Duluth wins. I told him I couldn't make it, but it wouldn't surprise me if he pulled that off, too. If you had a son, and he turned out to be Scott Anderson, you would have to consider yourself one lucky mom or dad. If Scott showed up at your door to date your daughter, you'd send them off happily, close the door, look at your spouse and smile. Not to worry. There was a guy you could count on. When I heard Tuesday afternoon that a Cirrus plane had gone down, I got worried. When I learned later that night that Scott hadn't made it, I sat in my living room and bawled my guts out while my son played with his Legos. It would not surprise me if hundreds of others did exactly the same thing I did. I'll bet Scott touched more lives in a meaningful way in his 33 years than most of us will get to in twice that. He was a brilliant, creative, remarkable guy. I keep seeing him in my mind, and all I see is that big head and that wonderful grin and all that confidence behind it. They say that as parents there are two things you want to give your kids--roots and wings, Scott Anderson had both, but he was partial to the wings. I hope he's still flying somewhere. ____________________