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National Flight Academy Is Space Camp Taken To The Next Level For Teens

National Flight Academy Is Space Camp Taken To The Next Level For Teens

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The panicked voice came into Ambition's air traffic control room — one of the aircraft carrier's young pilots was in trouble.

"Dude, my nose is down," the pilot shouted as he struggled to regain control over his X12 experimental Triad aircraft.

There was no real danger, however: The planes are imaginary and Ambition is a simulated aircraft carrier, the centerpiece of the new, $33 million National Flight Academy that supporters are calling space camp taken to the next level.

It officially opens Friday at Pensacola Naval Air Station with scheduled appearances by former shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan — the first and the last men to walk on the moon.

Campers from seventh to 12th grade will experience five days onboard Ambition at the National Flight Academy, surrounded by sights and sounds that recreate the feeling of being at sea and conducting noncombat missions.

Organizers say it's not just for teens who might be interested in becoming a Navy pilot, but also for those who might have an unrealized aptitude for science or math.

"Unless kids get a spark somewhere and they get excited about math or science, they are not going to do it and that is what this is about. They may not find that they want to be an aviator, but they may be really good at meteorology or geometry and that helps them make decisions about a career," said Pam Northrup, dean of the college of professional studies at the University of West Florida and consultant on the Flight Academy project since it was conceived 15 years ago.

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Article by MELISSA NELSON, | Read full article here

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