Galway students to get a taste of aviation at Florida flight academy

12 Jun 2013

Some of the 12 students from Galway who were picked to head to the National Flight Academy in Florida last summer. They are with Daráine Mulvihill during a recent visit to the Science Gallery in Dublin

Twelve students from Galway will have the chance to spend six days in Florida later this summer to carry out simulated aviation training at the National Flight Academy. The trip is part of an initiative at the Galway Education Centre to get more students interested in science, engineering and maths.

The competition will be open to students from Galway City and county who are between the ages of 12 and 15, according to Bernard Kirk, director of the Galway Education Centre.

Last year, 12 students from Galway – seven teenage girls and five teenage boys – headed to the National Flight Academy, which is based in Pensacola, Florida, for simulated aviation training. The academy is part of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation in the US.

The Galway Education Centre became an international partner of the National Flight Academy in 2012.

Kirk said the 12 students picked for this year’s programme will travel with three teachers on 26 July to take part in a six-day residency on board the National Flight Academy’s simulated training aircraft carrier, Ambition, along with up to 120 students from around the globe.

“The aim of the programme is to excite kids about science, technology and engineering,” he explained. “They do this by working on simulators to learn how to become pilots.”

There’s a lot of maths involved in the training, according to Kirk, as the students get to create scenarios where they simulate saving people from a disaster, such as a tsunami.

“It’s a rescue mission. In real-time you are getting the kids to engage in science and technology on an accelerated basis,” he said.

For the first two days of the programme, the students learn how to use the simulators. Then they work in teams to put together rescue plans.

“During a rescue scenario, the students might be told that the wind direction has changed so they will have to go back and re-do their maths as regards angles they can fly in and out of the disaster zone,” said Kirk.

Students have until 24 June to get their applications in to the Galway Education Centre, with Kirk adding that they will have to put together a two-minute video clip as part of the process.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic