Sidna Brower Mitchell: Meeting a History-Making Pilot

Test pilot Scott Crossfield in the cockpit of a Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket in November 1953. Photo via Wikipedia

The pastor asked how many people remembered Chuck Yeager. Almost everyone raised a hand because I was in a congregation of older folks. Actually, I recall reading about Yeager breaking the sound barrier but remembered meeting another famous pilot.

I had been to a conference on affordable housing in Washington, D.C., and a friend invited me to a dinner with a number of important politicians on the dais. Seated at a table near the dignitaries, I found myself next to an attractive older gentleman. After introducing ourselves, I asked him what he did. “I’m a pilot,” the man answered.

Yeah, just a pilot—a famous, history-making pilot! The next day, while touring the aviation section of the Smithsonian, there was his plane—Scott Crossfield was the first person to exceed Mach 2.0 and the first to survive flying faster than Mach 3.0. He had served as a flight instructor in the U.S. Navy and as a fighter pilot during World War II.

My friend, also a former Navy pilot, became friends with Crossfield. Fortunately, I had a chance to meet him again when I did publicity for the Boonton Township Fire Department, opening a satellite firehouse on the Radio Aircraft Corporation (ARC) field where Jimmy Doolittle once flew. In 1929, Army Air Corps pilot Jimmy Doolittle made history there by taking off and landing at the ARC field via the use of radio beacon and transmitter, without looking out of the cockpit.

Now, my recipe has nothing to do with those reminisces or the history. This recipe is one that I found in one of my many cookbooks, and it’s great for an easy and simple entree, especially during the cold winter months.

Sweet & Sour Pork

4 pork chops or cubed pork
¼ c. soy sauce
¼ c. ketchup
½ c. apple jelly

Trim fat from pork chops and place in ovenproof casserole dish. Mix soy sauce, ketchup and jelly. Pour over pork and make sure it’s coated. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes – less for cubed pork – or until meat is tender.

Serves two to four people.

Note: I used apricot jelly since I didn’t have any apple jelly in the pantry. Also, I cubed the pork, placed the meat in a baking dish, covered it with the sauce in the morning and put that in the refrigerator until time to prepare for dinner.

Sidna Brower Mitchell graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1963 and was named to the Ole Miss Hall of Fame. She was editor of The Daily Mississippian when James Meredith integrated the university, receiving a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her editorials and a number of other honors and job offers. The Memphis native worked for the World-Telegram and Sun in New York City and UPI in London. She held other media and public relations jobs and was part owner of weekly newspapers in Morris County, N.J., for 25 years. She has continued to write a weekly cooking column since 1975. Sidna retired as deputy director of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), a controversial state agency. Still holding offices in several organizations, Sidna has taken up serious croquet in retirement and has participated in tournaments in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida. While she has never returned to the South to live, Sidna’s heart and cooking still have that Southern touch. She can be reached via e-mail at