U.S. Space & Rocket Center Media Relations
Will Thornton of Cullman recently attended Aviation Challenge at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home of Space Camp and NASA's official Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight 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.
Will, son of Nancy Thornton and Michael Burcheats, both of Cullman, was part of the Aviation Challenge Mach II Program, a program specifically designed for trainees who have an interest in military aviation and the mechanics of flight. He 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. Will and the crew returned to land in time to graduate with honors.
Aviation Challenge crew trainers who lead each 16-member team must have at least a year of college, and the majority of staff are college graduates. Aviation Challenge operates year-round in Huntsville, Alabama, and uses fighter pilot training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Students sleep in barracks designed to resemble military bays. More than 600,000 trainees have graduated from Space Camp since its opening in Huntsville in 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. Last year, children and teachers from all 50 states and 58 international locations attend Space Camp.