Competition for Irish students to head to National Flight Academy in Florida

19 Jun 2012

Students receive a view of the A-6 Intruder at the National Naval Aviation Museum in the US in early June. Image from National Flight Academy's Facebook page

The Galway Education Centre in Ireland has become the first international partner to sign an agreement with the National Flight Academy in Florida to send 12 students to take part in the academy’s Aviator of the Future programme in August.

Bernard Kirk, who heads up the Galway Education Centre, said it is the first time that students from outside of the US will be heading to take part in simulator flying training at the National Flight Academy.

He said that because the agreement has been signed so quickly, the first year will be a pilot programme and will only be open to students from Galway City and county.

“The idea will be to extend the programme in 2013 and to potentially get 24 participants from around Ireland,” said Kirk.

Students need to be aged between 12 and 15 to be eligible for the programme. They can apply online and have until next Wednesday, 27 June to get their applications in.

Kirk said the students picked for the programme will be heading off with three teachers in August to take part in a five-day residency on board the National Flight Academy’s simulated training aircraft carrier, Ambition. It has been designed to simulate a modern aircraft carrier and features three decks that host simulation and immersion centre spaces, as well as academic spaces, mess decks and accommodation berthing.

“The idea of the programme is to get students using mathematical calculations while they are in the simulator. They will have to make decisions as a team around simulated aircraft landings, for instance, during tricky situations such as when there’s an impending tsunami or a nuclear disaster,” said Kirk.

He said the programme will be all about getting kids to use their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

The National Flight Academy itself is a subsidiary of The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation in the US. In 1993, the foundation began focusing on youth education programmes to engage students in the STEM subjects.

Interested students from Galway may email a request for an application form before next Wednesday.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic