My Ambition – by Christina Malone
The International Flight Academy was a perfect way to wake me up after months of relaxing and doing very little academic activities. But it was more than just a wakeup call; it was an experience of a life time. Everything from the fact it is based in sunny Pensacola, to the outstanding hospitality, to the amazing friends I encountered along the way, was awe inspiring.
The adventure started before we even set foot on an aeroplane, as we were invited to Shannon to learn about the theory of flight. We got taught about Isaac Newton’s laws and the four antagonistic forces that come into play on an aeroplane when it is airborne, which are thrust, drag, weight and lift. We also got a chance to test some flight simulators they have there. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and have been invited back again.
We also got to meet Enda Kenny and get our picture taken with him. While we were in Florida that picture appeared in the Connaught Tribune.
The expedition started at 2:30 AM Friday the 3/8/12. We made it to Dublin airport at 6:00 AM. Once there we all met up and after surviving security we finally boarded the plane. Eight hours later we found ourselves in Atlanta. In Atlanta we had a six-hour wait before our flight to Pensacola. When we arrived in Pensacola we found a welcome party awaiting us with banners and beads. We arrived at Ambition, which is a mock-up of an aircraft carrier, in a haze of tiredness, but tired as we were we could still appreciate the size of the building. Once out of the delightfully air-conditioned minivan, we were almost suffocated by the heat of the night.
Inside the Ambition, we were shown to our rooms where we deposited our bags and then went to the mess deck for a pizza party.
The next day we went to a beach resort, and had a brilliant time. That night the first of our fellow AXPs arrived in the form of two American brothers.
The next day yielded the arrival of the rest of our fellow Ambition eXperimental Pilots. We were introduced to the rest of our squadron and started learning the ropes in the JIC (Joint Intelligence Centre), the JOC (Joint Operations Centre) and the X-12 Triad simulators.
The next couple of days involved learning how to plan our flight in the JIC, directing air traffic in the JOC, testing the Triad in the simulators, learning about our next mission in the Ready Room, eating exquisite food and making exceptional friends. We learnt how to plan for, instruct and execute missions which included formation flying, a race, and rescuing 2000 plus unfortunate victims of a collision between a cruise liner and a container ship, which contained deadly chemicals which when combined with each other had the power to explode, intoxicate, dissolve flesh, cause cancer and potentially death. Fortunately we managed to save all on-board the cruise liner and all on-board the container ship.
As well as the missions, we got to visit the US Navy Museum, the lifeguard training school, the survival school, the Blue Angels air show and the control tower for the military airport.
I was disheartened when it came down to graduation wishing the experience could have prolonged for another week or so. We all graduated successfully and received our gold wings, medal and a certificate. After graduation we said our goodbyes to our squadron mates as they departed for home.
That evening we went to see the Blue Wahoo baseball team play the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Blue Wahoos lost but it was still fun to watch. We had a very relaxing time eating cracker jacks and candyfloss. At the end of the match we got to go down on the pitch and get our photo taken before we headed back to Ambition.
The next day we bid farewell to the Chiefs, Ambition and Florida. The flight home was uneventful but when we got home we were greeted by our family and friends. We said adieu to each other then headed home.
I would just like to say thank you to Kate, Maeve and Paddy for looking after and putting up with me.
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