Local graduates from Aviation Challenge

Published 12:15 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Cole Simmons, an incoming fifth-grade student at Verbena High School, recently completed the Aviation Challenge – Mach I Program at U.S. Space and Rocket Center, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Official Visitor Center.

“It was lots of fun, and I want to go back again,” Simmons said.

The camp ran from July 2 to July 7.

According to a U.S. Space and Rocket Center press release, the week-long program is “specifically designed for students who have an interest in military aviation and the mechanics of flight.”

The program incorporates a number of science, technology, engineering and math elements with a focus on teamwork, leadership and problem solving.

Simmons said his favorite part was the F-18 fighter jet flight simulator. He said even though it was a simulator, it had “all the controls like the real one.”

“We got to learn how to survive if we crash,” Simmons said.

“The crew learned critical land- and water-survival skills and mastered Top Gun flying maneuvers. Cole and crew returned in time to graduate with honors,” according to a press release.

Simmons said he also enjoyed the outdoor activities and visiting the space center’s gift shop.

“Aviation Challenge opened in 1990 in Huntsville, Alabama, and uses fighter pilot training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Students sleep in barracks designed to resemble military bays,” according to press release.