A Crow Takes A Long Flight
Andy Thomas is an Australian/American astronaut. He is also a South Australian and importantly a dedicated Crows supporter. Born in Adelaide in 1951 he went to St Peters College before going to Adelaide University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree and then a PhD in mechanical engineering. Going to America and becoming an American citizen he joined NASA’s astronaut program and eventually spent a total of 177 days in space on four separate missions.
After his initial space flight he readily agreed to become an official ambassador of the Club joining ranks with other notable South Australia identities who were Crows supporters.
In 1999 he visited the Club and arranged as a memento of both his ambassadorship and his visit for the Club, to have the Crows cloth badge that he had taken with him into space (he wasn’t allowed to wear it on his space suit but on his working space station clothes……..). Framed with the cloth badge was a photo of himself, a small Australian flag that had accompanied the Crow, a collage of photographs pertaining to his flight, his signed card and an explanation of the uniqueness of the Crow’s adventure, including the mammoth distance it had flown – 160 orbits (6,598,310kms) 283 kms above the Earth!
Initially it hung in the Club’s administration building until the establishment of the Club museum. In the museum it shared the display cabinet containing the Club’s most prized trophies and artifacts – the keys to the city, pre-season cups, Brownlow Medalist’s boots, minor premiership trophies and the likes. Our Club and museum guides guides would highlight the Andy Thomas display because no other AFL club, perhaps no other sporting club in Australia, had anything like it. It was one of the museum’s most popular, and certainly its most unique, exhibits.
There was an interesting, indeed intriguing sequel to this story however. In November 2020 a second crow took off for a long space flight.. This time it was a on Crows home jumper that was taken into space on a request from a South Australian family, very obviously Crows supporters. On May 2, 2021 it arrived back on earth having spent 167 days on the space station whilst flying 109,435,392 kilometers. And the astronaut who had taken it to the international space station? Shannon Walker, Andy Thomas’s wife! See……..