National Flight Academy

About National Flight Academy

STEM Camp - Aviation themed - Immersive residential educational camp - life on an simulated aircraft carrier

NATIONAL FLIGHT ACADEMY’s virtual aircraft carrier


Ambition is a 102,000 sq. ft. four story structure christened in May 2011 as a simulated training aircraft carrier (CVT-11). Ambition is the capstone experience of its parent organization, The NATIONAL FLIGHT ACADEMY.

The NATIONAL FLIGHT ACADEMY takes a revolutionary, hands on approach to teaching the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) while reaching beyond the ordinary academic experience to inspire students. Creating an immersive serious game environment through intense role-playing gives future leaders a sense of accomplishment while learning critical skills they will be able to apply throughout their lives.

The Ambition is designed to host a year-round schedule of multi-day in residence courses for middle school and high school students and beyond. Each deck of Ambition is designed to replicate a modern aircraft carrier. The first deck finds the ship’s ceremonial quarterdeck, donor recognition visitors center, galley, mess deck, administrative spaces and the flight simulator hangar bay. The second deck is dedicated to themed learning spaces and contains 18 Simulation and Immersion Centers. The third and fourth decks are devoted to 44 six-person staterooms, student lounges, and activity rooms.

Since its inception in 2012, over 16,000 students from 50 states, 10 countries and four US territories have experienced the unparalleled learning adventure aboard AMBITION. Attendees – known as AMBITION eXperimental Pilots or AXPs – plan humanitarian missions with ultramodern, advanced technology, learn to fly in 42 networked flight simulators, eat on a mess deck, sleep in staterooms and receive mission briefings in six fully electronic ready rooms. Students are challenged on a wide range of topics from basic three-dimensional physics and motion to more advanced concepts of aeronautical engineering and propulsions systems. These missions play into enhancing the students’ education, enriching their understanding of STEM principles. In addition, by working in a team-training environment, leadership development, effective communication, and critical thinking challenges are emphasized and embedded into each mission. In all programs, curriculum is aligned to Florida State Education Standards and National Common Core Standards for Math and Science. Being located on NAS Pensacola provides us with the unique opportunity to take the students to the NAS Air Traffic Control tower and out to the flight line to watch the Blue Angels practice.
At NFA, we have found that by placing students in a real-world scenario via immersion, simulation and virtual reality, they become far more skilled at scientific theorems, deciphering mathematical equations and finding self-confidence in their own ability to problem-solve. Participants show a measurable increase in knowledge of STEM principles after completing our program.

Program History
NFA was first pitched in 2001 by the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation leadership to fulfill our commitment to sustainable education. The Disney Imagineers who helped design the building made it look, sound and feel exactly like a carrier. In fact, most of the design elements in the building were taken from naval aircraft carriers.
We hosted our first students aboard in 2012. Shortly after, we added special events, adult team training opportunities and more programs for younger kids. In addition to our flagship 6-Day Summer Deployments, we work with educators to offer 1-Day Adventures and 3-Day Cruises to students in 5th – 12th grades during the academic year. Recently, we have also added a Cyber Security Cruise and are currently developing mission scenarios in virtual reality. All curriculum we develop is mapped to National Common Core Standards allowing teachers to embrace NFA as an extension of their classroom.

Videos help to tell our story the best! Below are links to a facilities overview, hosted by Lieutenant General Duane Thiessen, our Foundation’s President and CEO. A digital brochure is also below and can be downloaded into PDF form.

The NFA is a 501(c)(3) and falls under the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. The National Flight Academy is a program of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation Inc., is authorized, but not endorsed or financially supported by the U.S. Navy or U.S. Government.


Hangar Bay Handler

May 2023 - August 2023 Pensacola, FL
“Everything was fantastic! The management was responsive, gracious, and accommodating, the staff are friendly, extremely intelligent, and hardworking, and the National Flight Academy's mission to help boost kids into STEM is a fantastic motivator!”

Camp Counselor

March 2018 Pensacola, FL
“The best part of this job are the kids. You are able to guide the kids on learn how to be a pilot while at the same time you are getting to know them and building an unbreakable bond with them.”
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