From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Stephen Thorne '75

Date of birth: February 11, 1953

Date of death: May 24, 1986

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1975 Lucky Bag:



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 had accumulated over 2,500 hours and 200 carrier landings in approximately 30 different types of aircraft.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Lieutenant Commander 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 was an astronaut candidate when the stunt plane he was in crashed near Santa Fe, Texas on May 24, 1986. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

From the July/August 1986 issue of Shipmate:

LCdr. Steve Thorne USN, died in an aircraft accident in Houston on 24 May 1986. He was an Astronaut with the Johnson Space Center preparing for assignment as a space shuttle pilot.

Born 11 February 1953 in Frankfurt-on-Main, West Germany, the son of a career Army officer, LCdr. Thorne graduated from T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, South Carolina, prior to entering the Naval Academy in 1971. While at the Academy he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in systems engineering.

After graduation in 1975, LCdr. Thorne entered Navy flight training, receiving his wings in December 1976. He completed F-4 Phantom training, joined Fighter Squadron 21 aboard the USS Ranger and deployed to the Western Pacific. While attached to Fighter Squadron 126 at NAS Miramar, California he was selected for U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. After graduating in December, 1981, he completed a tour at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, flying weapon system tests in the F-4 and A-7E Corsair.

In 1984, LCdr. Thorne completed F/A-18 Hornet flight training. He was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 132 aboard the USS Coral Sea and awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his accomplishments. In June 1985 he was selected to join NASA's astronaut corps as part of the eleventh group of astronauts.

A sports enthusiast, Steve enjoyed baseball, running and recreational flying. He was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Naval Academy Alumni Association. He will be remembered by his friends and colleagues for his loyalty, integrity and ready smile.

Steve is survived by his bride of ten years, the former Sue Graham Lotz of Staunton, Virginia, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James H. Thorne, and his sister, Melanie Thorne. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 30 May 1986. Memorials may be offered to the Navy Relief Society or the American Cancer Society.

Class of 1975

Stephen is one of 8 members of the Class of 1975 on Virtual Memorial Hall.