Bright Future: Cathedral student headed to National Flight Academy
NATCHEZ — Cathedral student Ashton Gibson hopes to one day get his wings and soar through the great blue sky.
Three essay questions and several letters of recommendations later, the 12-year-old seventh grader received a scholarship to head to the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Fla, an opportunity that may make his dream come true.
“I’ve always been fascinated by flight and airplanes,” Gibson said.
The National Flight Academy serves as an education program where students from seventh through 12th grade can spend six days experiencing a theme park-style adventure surrounded by advanced technology, flight simulators and virtual reality games.
Gibson’s mother, Jamie Gibson, a science teacher at Cathedral, said Gibson is obsessed with anything having to do with the military, including the Blue Angles, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron who has a home base in Pensacola.
“We would go down to the beach, but his favorite place to go was the National Naval Aviation Museum,” she said.
Since the age of five, Gibson longed to have a career that would take him in the air, which led him to want to be an Air Force pilot when he gets older.
“The flight and the military aspects of being an Air Force pilot interest me,” he said. “For my birthday, I got to go up into a single engine airplane and got to fly around.”
Mrs. Gibson said taking that flight sparked Gibson’s love to fly.
“That’s really what started it off,” she said. “It captured his imagination.”
Gibson has several model airplanes at home — including a Lego helicopter he created himself.
“I got it for Christmas about two years ago,” Gibson said. “When I got it, I couldn’t put it down. I just kept adding pieces to it.”
Gibson will attend the National Flight Academy in late June, but he’s already excited.
“I couldn’t believe I got the scholarship to go,” Gibson said. “For a little while, I was thinking I wasn’t going to get it.”
Since Gibson was awarded the scholarship, most of his expenses are paid for.
However, that did not stop Gibson from working hard to earn extra money before leaving in June.
Gibson’s hard work consisted of collecting crushed cans, picking pecans and warming up his mother’s vehicle in the morning.
Gibson’s grandmother, Angela Gibson, said she is proud that Gibson was able to set a goal and work toward it.
“We match everything he raises because of how hard he works,” she said.
As a child, Gibson spent his time watching the History Channel and the American Heroes Channel — gaining much knowledge that will remain with him for the rest of his life.