A Passionate Life.... By Anne Lenehan /Page 5
"I guess in a way, Tom's death was the most tragic for me. He was leading a tragic life...a
sense of hopelessness, the desperation. But he was a fantastic person, a great letter writer.
He was, in ways, a more complete human at that time; maybe that's what got him... but you do
always wonder how it could have been different."
During 1964 and while progressing with his internship, Story read an article which mentioned
that NASA and the National Academy of Sciences were considering employing scientist-astronauts
who would also be trained as military jet pilots. It was at this point that everything came
together in terms of a focus for his career. Having soloed an aircraft at the age of 16, continuing
his knowledge of aircraft mechanics and electrical components in the Marines (although not trained
as a military pilot), Story had gradually begun to gain his private aircraft ratings while in
Kentucky. He decided to discontinue his internship and instead focus on aerospace physiology,
a field which he felt would be of benefit to a future career in space. Surprisingly, it was
a move which was supported by his mentor, Dr Eiseman.
“The epiphany which led to me becoming an astronaut - I read in some newspaper where the
National Academy of Science and NASA were going to explore flying people other than test pilots...
At the moment I read that article I was a spaceperson; that's me!.. From my aviation education
to medicine, and to see in a flash that everything I've ever done in life I can apply to this
While studying physiology and completing his Masters degree in that field, Story took some courses
in aeronautical engineering and continued to fly, becoming an instructor pilot. He worked part
time for a commercial aviation company in Kentucky, flying private passengers to various destinations
across the US. He also became known for his parachuting, using that skill to assist with a class
experiment in aerodynamics. In all he completed over 500 jumps during his years in Kentucky.
Meanwhile, NASA proceeded with its plans to appoint scientist-astronauts, with the first group
selected in 1965. Story was ultimately successful and joined the second group in 1967.
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