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Summer Experience

Pupil visit to the National Flight Academy, Florida

Year 8 pupil Jack is part of our BBC Young Reporter team and he writes about his Summer 2019 experience at the National Flight Academy in Florida.

What is the National Flight Academy?  

The National Flight Academy (NFA) is based around a virtual aircraft carrier, called AMBITION, in Pensacola, Florida. At the NFA they run STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programmes to solve problems based on naval aviation missions.

Pensacola is also where the US Navy aerobatics team, the Blue Angels, are based.

How did I get in?

I had to submit a 3 minute YouTube video about a STEM aviation career and what I would create in this career.



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What did I get out of the NFA?

At the NFA I learnt many things such as:

  • Learning how to calculate fuel loads, flight times and distance in nautical miles
  • Weather; including wind speed, direction, and cloud types
  • How the US Navy teaches survival skills
  • What life is like on an aircraft carrier
  • How bad American cheese is (aka orange plastic)
  • How much better the Red Arrows are than the Blue Angels
  • That the Americans think we all personally know the queen!

What was life like on board AMBITION?

Life on board AMBITION is quite tiring, as you get very little sleep and have lots of work to do during the day. It is run like a real aircraft carrier with military timing. You sleep in bunks just like the real thing, 9 bunks to a room. You are woken up each morning at 6.30am with a bang on the door shouting  'Wake Up!' After breakfast there were activities, such as visiting the museum and seeing the Blue Angels display team practice.

After lunch you have a briefing for the missions. These varied and included many real-life scenarios such as rescuing a sinking ship, organising flying air shows and being Air Traffic Control.

We worked in squadrons of 12, I was in the Black Knights. Three squadrons would then make up one Carrier Air Group (CAG) - I was in CAG 1. One squadron would be Planning, one Performing the mission and the other managing Air Traffic Control.

Would I go again?

Yes, definitely! I hope to apply again next year!

Related Links:

NFA florida Jack