From a contemporary news report:
"May 24, 1986: A stunt plane crashed while performing maneuvers Saturday
near Santa Fe, Texas, killing an astronaut candidate and a NASA engineer,
officials said. The dead were identified as the pilot James Ryan Simons,
39, and passenger Stephen D. Thorne, 33, both of Houston. A spokesman at
the Johnston Space Center said Thorne was an astronaut candidate and Simons
was a flight control engineer for the space agency."
His private memorial is in Section 7-A of Arlington
NAME: Stephen D. Thorne (Lieutenant Commander,
Astronaut Candidate (Pilot) NASA Astronaut
Born February 11,
1953, in Frankfurt-on-Main, West Germany. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. James
H. Thorne, reside in Anderson, South Carolina.
Brown hair; green
eyes; height: 6 feet 2 inches; weight: 185 pounds.
Graduated from T.
L. Hanna High School, Anderson, South Carolina, in 1971; received a bachelor
of science degree in Systems Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in
Married to the former
Sue Lotz of Staunton, Virginia. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Philip L. Lotz,
still reside there.
He enjoys baseball,
running, reading, and general aviation.
Member of the Society
of Experimental Test Pilots. Life member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association.
Upon graduation from
the Naval Academy, Thorne entered flight training and received his wings
in December 1976. Following training in the F-4 Phantom, he joined Fighter
Squadron 21 (VF-21) and was deployed to the Western Pacific aboard the
USS RANGER. After training at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1981,
Thorne spent the next two years at Strike Aircraft Test at the Naval Air
Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, flying mostly ordnance and weapons
systems tests in the F-4 and A-7 Corsair II. He completed F-18 Hornet transition
training in October 1984 and joined Strike Fighter Squadron 132 (VFA-132)
aboard USS CORAL SEA until departing for NASA.
He has accumulated
over 2,500 hours and 200 carrier landings in approximately 30 different
types of aircraft.
Thorne was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in June 1985 and,
in August, commenced a one year training and evaluation program to qualify
for subsequent assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews.
Stephen Thorne lost his life in an airplane
crash on 5-24-86.
Photo courtesy of Ron Williams
Page Updated: 4 January 2001 Updated: 5 February 2002 Updated: 10
August 2003 Updated: 18 October 2005