Four students from the James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center participated in a week long training program at the National Flight Academy (NFA) in Pensacola, Florida.  The students, who all recently completed the Pax River Flight Academy curriculum at the Tech Center, received scholarships to the Ambition Program under a grant from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) to The Patuxent Partnership.

The NFA is a 102,000 sq. ft. four-story structure designed to be fully immersive experience. The NFA’s adventure begins when the students enter the building, a virtual aircraft carrier called Ambition.  Each deck of Ambition is designed scenically and theatrically to simulate a modern aircraft carrier. The first deck houses the galley, mess deck, administrative spaces and the aircraft hangar bays. The second deck is dedicated to academic spaces including the operations and intelligence centers.  The third and fourth decks house berthing (crew quarters), lounges and activity rooms.  It is easy for students to forget they are inside a building and not on a real aircraft carrier.

The four students, Seth Keller, Zoe Lambert, Ryan Rutkowski, and Christopher White, were nominated for the scholarship based on their outstanding performance during the school year.  Lyn Whitmer, Pax River Flight Academy Instructor said, “This is the first year of operation for the Pax River Flight Academy and we were able to successfully graduate 17 High School students from the program.  We are looking forward to adding additional students for the 2014-2015 school year, as well as some additional opportunities for middle school students.”  Whitmer, who is a retired naval aviator with over 4,500 hours of flight time in a variety of different aircraft, has been instrumental in the success of the program.

The Pax River Flight Academy was made possible by a grant from NAWCAD to The Patuxent Partnership.  The grant allowed for an Aviation Classroom Experience (ACE) to be developed and implemented within the St. Mary’s County Public School system.  The ACE at the Tech Center is a scaled down version of what students would experience while attending the National Flight Academy at Pensacola.

“We are committed to advancing education through STEM initiatives and the development of our future workforce,” said Bonnie Green, Executive Director of The Patuxent Partnership.  “The Pax River Flight Academy and the National Flight Academy’s Ambition program reinforce STEM fundamentals and the importance of science and math in a multitude of career paths, to include aviation.  We appreciate NAWCAD’s continued collaboration in support of our STEM initiatives and are pleased with their decision to select The Patuxent Partnership to administer this grant.”

Zoe Lambert and flight partner Seth Keller take a moment to enjoy an interactive display at the National Naval Aviation Museum while attending the National Flight Academy’s Ambition program in Pensacola, Florida.  To learn more about the Pax River Flight Academy, visit the James A. Forrest Career and Technology webpage at:

The Patuxent Partnership works with government, industry and academia on initiatives in science and technology, hosts programs of interest to NAVAIR and the broader DoD community, and supports workforce development including education initiatives and professional development. Visit