PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - On Friday morning, a brand new aircraft carrier will be commissioned at NAS Pensacola and the ceremony will feature some out-of-this world guests.
But this aircraft carrier will conduct all its missions on land.
Once you step inside a massive building found just next to the National Naval Aviation Museum, you'll think you're miles out into the ocean.
Welcome aboard the ‘Ambition'. It's a simulated aircraft carrier at the National Flight Academy aboard NAS Pensacola.
Here, middle and high school students live and work for around five days, simulating real naval missions.
But the real endgame is to inspire students to become interested in math and science.
"[It's] almost accidental learning as they say, they're learning all types of things but they're having so much fun doing it that they don't even know they're learning," Shelley Ragsdale with the National Naval Aviation Museum said.
The $45 million facility has all the high-tech bells and whistles. It looks, smells, and sounds like an aircraft carrier. Teams from Disney World and Universal Studios helped design the program.
Here at the National Flight Academy, they've got 30 networked flight simulators. That's the most you'll find outside of the Department of Defense.
And on Friday morning, the ship will be commissioned in a grand ceremony. Astronaut Captain Mark Kelly will be the featured speaker. The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and the last man on the moon, Gene Cernan, will also be in attendance.
Perhaps this ship can inspire a future corps of astronauts.
"The United States is falling behind in some of those hard sciences. We're not as high as we used to be, we're not competing as much in the 21st century with some of the other countries in the world and we're using this as a way to get students interested in those hard sciences," Ragsdale said.
That's the mission of this land-locked aircraft carrier, and the adventure officially begins Friday.
The commissioning ceremony will kick off at 8:30 Friday morning outside the National Flight Academy.
FOX10 News will have live coverage of the event beginning on our morning show.
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