Four astronauts were flying in two separate T-38 jets approaching Lambert Field in St. Louis on Feb. 28, 1966: Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan, Charlie Bassett and Elliott See. Bassett and See were in the lead jet, which made sense, since they were the prime crew for the upcoming Gemini 9 mission, and Stafford and Cernan were the back-ups. All four were coming to town for a series of runs on the Gemini simulator. The weather, however, was lousy that day, and See, an experienced Naval aviator, misjudged the approach, crashing into a nearby McDonnell Douglas factory and killing himself and Bassett. Stafford and Cernan landed safely. Three months later, they flew the mission that had been intended for their lost colleagues. Two years after that, they flew to the moon along with John Young for the Apollo 10 orbital mission. In 1972, Cernan returned to walk on the moon — the last man ever to do so. All of that history, in many ways, turned on the chance appearance of clouds over St. Louis.
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