August third, the day we had been dreading since our arrival 9 days earlier.
We were fortunate enough to have a little sleep in this morning and wake up call was at 8am. Usually 12 teenagers would be screeching to get out of bed at 8am but after our week of early mornings and busy days it was definitely nothing to complain about. We all knew today was the day we had to depart from our new home of Ambition and everyone’s emotions were running high.
After the hectic last minute packing this morning, we headed down to the Mess deck for breakfast where we were thrilled to see 60 Krispy Kreme doughnuts waiting for us. Each AXP was eligible for 5 doughnuts but only the very brave AXPs managed to eat all 5.
After our heavenly breakfast we went back up to our staterooms to say goodbye to our beds and grabbed our luggage to bring downstairs to the lobby. Our time schedule was running smoothly so we were able to go across the road to the Museum of Naval Aviation one last time. All 12 AXPs made a pit stop to the gift shop at the museum to buy some last minute presents for our friends and family back home.
We browsed around the museum for a little while to look at our favourite exhibits one more time before we would have to leave. At 11.45 we met back at Ambition and the thought of having to leave became a reality. The car was packed, the people were crying and the experience was about to end. The last 9 days were unforgettable but the
main thing we learned was that once you know how to fly, the sky is no longer the limit. All 12 AXPs really treasured our time aboard Ambition and were so thankful for the time we spent, friends we met and the people who had invested in us.
Memories are special, they last forever in your mind. When we stepped into the NFA minivan for the last time this morning, our biggest fear was forgetting what it feels like to be there, in the strong humid air of Pensacola with these 11 other people we can now call our bestfriends. Every other time we were in the van together we were laughing and singing, sharing stories of the silly things our room mates had done the night before. This time was different though, there was a sad vibe in the air. We have had the most amazing, once in a lifetime experience this week and we will never forget it.
When we reached the airport everyone stepped out of the van and gathered their luggage. Masterchief and Melody then walked us to the check in desks. That’s when it became real that we were actually leaving. We checked in, got our boarding cards and said our last minute thank you’s.
We then made our way through security and up to the gates. We thought we weren’t going to have any time to eat anything or look in the one shop in the airport but thankfully we had just over an hour. We sat down at a small restaurant and had lunch. At about 1410, Domhnall came down to tell us the gates were open and we had to board.
The flight to Charlotte was only one hour long but as soon as we stepped off the plane we were rushed over to the gate for boarding to Dublin. The airport was absolutely packed. We had about five minutes to make a head call (go to the bathroom) and get some snacks for the plane.
We got on the plane, put our bags overhead and found our seats. After a little while we were told by the captain that the plane was delayed. Nobody really minded this because we were all spread around the plane and we got to spend more time together. From then on we cherished every second we could get to spend together. It’s not going to be as simple as that very soon.
When we first met up in Galway Education Centre, we met 11 other girls and guys from around Galway. It was very awkward and we were scared that that wouldn’t change. Now, almost one month later, after meetings, a trip to Shannon and an amazing trip to Florida, we have made life long friends. I can honestly say that we are some of the luckiest people to have been chosen and invested in by Galway Education Centre.
On behalf of all the Irish AXP’s I would like to say a massive thank you to Kate, Paddy, Maeve, all the staff at NFA, Galway Education Centre and everyone who had any part to play in sending us on this once in a life time opportunity.
I heart Roadrunner
Louise Hosty(AKA Cabbage)
Check out the highlights from our last two days on board Ambition as Aviator of the Future Ambassadors for Galway Education Centre, Ireland for 2013.
Days three and four have been fun! Check out all of hard work in this video! The Irish Aviator of the Future Ambassadors have been busy!
Today is our third day on Ambition. It was a bright, warm, lovely day. The sky was clear and blue.
We are beginning to get used to waking up at 6:30. We headed down to the mess deck with our A.M. Chiefs. This morning we had French toast, cheese grits, scrambled eggs, sausages and bread roles. The food continues to be exceedingly good.
After that we headed to the J.I.C. My squadron was about to play a game of Jeopardy when suddenly the fire alarm went off. We had to walk outside to complete a very professionally done fire drill. After this my squadron returned to the J.I.C. Other squadrons went to Air Traffic Control (ATC) and were completing various activities or were having squadron time in the ready rooms.
After, we headed over to the Naval Aviation Museum on base. We were going to go to Hangar Bay 1, but sadly it is closed on Tuesdays. We went back to the main museum, which all of us from Ireland had been to it before but we did not see all of it, and it was still as impressive as it ever was. Everybody was amazed by the small (and large) things we missed before. A nice employee informed us of what life was like many years ago. It was very interesting. We use the max flight simulators. They are a 4D flight simulator. We got to move around in a Blue Angel’s FA-18 Hornet and show off our skills!
After the museum we proceeded to the J.I.C. Here we planned out a formation flying mission. The IO (Intelligence Officer) gave us some good tips on flying in formation and let us practice. After this we went to the mess deck for lunch.
After a delicious lunch we headed back to the museum for an IMAX movie. It was called ‘The Magic Of Flight’. After this we returned to Ambition and competed various missions and had some Squadron time. We then went to dinner. We are served dinner in order of how clean our staterooms are. Today Stateroom 23 (which has myself and Eoin in it) won. We had help from some flying friends.
After dinner we proceeded to plan and complete missions. We also were in the J.O.C. to help the other squadrons whose planes we were watching on the radar. We all had great fun and are looking forward to tomorrow!!
Check out the highlights of our first two days sailing on Ambition
Day 2 on Ambition
After waking up at 06:30 we headed down to the mess deck for breakfast which was bacon, pancakes, eggs, grits and home fries.
After we had land survival where we learned how to survive in the wild by making fires using various methods.
Next was the scavenger hunt where we searched Ambition for various rooms and objects.
Whilst in the the JIC ( Joint Intelligence Centre) we practised hovering on the simulators as we would need this skill for our missions.
For lunch we had hamburgers with beans and a cookie for dessert.
After this we went to the JOC (Joint Operations Centre) and gave the AXPs flying the triads headings and directions. Then we flew the triads ourselves.
For dinner we had southern fried chicken with pasta and a brownie for dessert.
At the end of the day we completed a mission helping the coast guard find and film illegal vessels and aircraft.
– Michael Murphy
Today we started the actual programme side of our trip. We met the other kids in our squadrons and our chiefs. We made lots of new friends and learned a lot about each other. We learned about the physics of planes and how they work. After about half an hour we learned around 106 things about planes. We went into the JOC which is the Joint operations centre. In here we learned how to talk to pilots from air traffic control centres and how to identify planes on radars. We also went into the hangar where the simulators were. These simulators were really hard to fly but we’ll get used to them. The last thing that we did today was learn how to plan missions. A lot of this is about maths but it’s really interesting. We also did interviews about our time here and how we were accepted to participate in the programme. I was really nervous when I did mine but I enjoyed it as well.
Today when we woke up we went to a golf club and had breakfast. We hadn’t really gotten used to the portions. The large in Ireland is the small in America!! It was hard to finish our pancakes but they were lovely. We then headed back to ‘Ambition’.
We got ready to go to the museum of naval aviation. We were amazed at how many planes there were. There was a Blue Angels simulator which was very good. After we went to have lunch in a restaurant at the museum. It was a very good experience.
Then we went back to our rooms to get our money. We had 20 minutes so we went into the games room for the first time. It has two TVs in it, one for the Xbox and one for the Playstation. There’s also an air-hockey table. Then we went to the mall and spent 2 hours there.
Afterwards we got dinner in a seafood restaurant. We played volleyball while we were waiting for the food. It was great fun. We ended the night by returning to ‘Ambition’ and had an air-hockey tournament. Mark won!
-Killian McHugh + Domhnall Ó Braonáin
Want to see our adventures so far? Check out this film:
The programme on board Ambition begins today. This is what we have to look forward to:
Here we are coming off the Bombardier CRJ900 at Pensacola airport.
We were met by Chip Yarborough, Programme Director at NFA, Dr. Dave Dawson of University of West Florida, Natalie Suarez, Event Coordinator and Lonex, Melody and Mike, who are our new chiefs. We are so excited to be here! Go NFA!