HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Brenden Okane of Bartlett recently attended Aviation Challenge at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, home of SPACE CAMP and NASA’s official Visitor Information Center for Marshall Spaceflight Center.
The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students and adults with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and decision-making.
Okane was part of the Aviation Challenge MACH II Program, a program specifically designed for students who have an interest in military aviation and the mechanics of flight. Trainees spent the week training with a team that flew a simulated F/A-18 fighter jet.
The crew learned critical land and water survival skills and mastered Top Gun flying maneuvers. Okane and crew returned to land in time to hear retired Space Shuttle astronaut Col. Jerry Ross speak at their graduation.
Aviation Challenge crew trainers who lead each 16-member team must have at least a year of college, and 67 percent of the staff are college graduates.
Aviation Challenge operates year-round in Huntsville, Ala., and uses fighter pilot training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. Students sleep in barracks designed to resemble military bays.
More than 700,000 trainees have graduated from Space Camp and Aviation Challenge since 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
Last year, children and teachers from all 50 states and 64 international locations attended Space Camp.