HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Three students from Scott County recently attended the Aviation Challenge Mach I at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home of Space Camp, Space Camp Robotics, Aviation Challenge and U.S. Cyber Camp here.
Attending were Bentley Ellis, of Huntsville; Wes Gilbert, of Oneida; and Eli Schmelter, of Huntsville.
The Rocket Center is a Smithsonian affiliate and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center official visitor center.
The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.
The program is designed for students who have an interest in military aviation and the mechanics of flight. Students learn principles of aviation and put their knowledge to the test in a variety of flight simulators. Taking the role of fighter pilots, Bentley, Wes and Eli ran control systems and scenario-based missions, as well as trained in water and land survival. At the end of the week, they and their crew returned in time to graduate with honors.
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 quarters designed to resemble military bays.
Almost 1 million trainees have graduated from a Space Camp program since its inception in Huntsville in 1982, including European Space Agency astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Dr. Kate Rubins, Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Christina Koch, who set the record for the longest duration space flight by a female. Children and teachers from all 50 states and almost 150 international locations have attended a Space Camp program.