Lifestyle

This is ground control to major Tim, you've made the grade

Yeppoon's Tim Gibson will head into space next year.
Yeppoon's Tim Gibson will head into space next year. Contributed ROK090114tim.cover

TIM Gibson could fly a plane before he could drive a car.

From early childhood, he harboured a desire to become a pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force.

It was almost prophetic that, by the age of two, he had been on more than 100 domestic flights (his father travelled regularly for work).

He got his student pilot's licence at 16, and his private licence at 19.

He studied commerce, with an elective in aviation, at Griffith University.

On graduating, he decided it was time to set course for his dream to join the RAAF.

The Yeppoon property manager sailed through the strict and comprehensive testing regime. Just when his goal was within reach, it was cruelly snatched away.

An ophthalmologist's test, done just before enlistment, ruled him out.

Not content to see his dream slip away, a determined Gibson appealed the decision five times.

But each appeal was greeted with the same response.

 

"Getting 'no' after 'no' was what made Buzz Aldrin's 'yes' so much more satisfying," Gibson said, trying to capture the moment the US astronaut shook his hand and told him he would be heading into space.

"If someone told me six months ago that I would be doing this, I would have said: 'no way, that's just not possible'.

"But it is. The feeling is of so much excitement. I can't wait to get up there and experience what less than 600 people in our history have experienced."

Gibson, 28, is the only Australian in the 23-strong international contingent that will embark on the space mission in early 2015.

His amazing journey started when he entered a competition being run by Lynx.

He saw the advertisement on television, which started with the words "Do you want to go to space?"

"Wow! Yes, I do," he remembers answering out loud. "This was not a competition to win a car or cash, this was something unfathomable."

Gibson went out the next morning and bought nine cans of Lynx deodorant. All he needed to complete an entry online was the product barcode and his personal details.

Not surprisingly, the competition attracted more than one million entries worldwide.

Gibson recalls clearly the phone call telling him he was among the 106 short listed entrants who would be going to the Lynx Space Academy, at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

It took some time for him to process the information. When it finally sank in, he literally jumped for joy.

In early December, Gibson travelled to Florida to undergo a raft of physical and mental tests.

They included zero gravity flights and fighter combat, as well as aptitude tests on subjects such as physics and chemistry.

Four judges from the Space Expedition Corporation were constantly monitoring and assessing the performance of the 106 finalists.

While some fell by the wayside, sickened by the incredible G forces or unable to complete the gruelling military combat assault course, Gibson shone in all aspects of the gruelling testing regime.

"I'll never know my scores... just that I won," he said. "That's all I need to know."

Topics:  astronaut dream editors picks nasa pilot royal australian air force



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