Don’t call Flight Works Alabama a museum, Airbus officials don’t believe that is a fair descriptor. Instead, try calling it an interactive aerospace education center.
In the center of the Brookley Aeroplex, the 15,000-square-foot facility will help teach visitors all about Airbus through interactive exhibits, including a simulator, a large virtual reality apparatus and a replica cockpit from an A320 — one of the two aircraft assembled at its facility in Mobile.
“There are 40 interactive exhibits,” Airbus Americas spokesperson Kristi Tucker said. “It’s designed for any age group, but it’s aimed for middle school and high school students. It’s fun. It’s not a museum.”
The simulator lets visitors takeoff or land an A320 aircraft and for an upcharge, the simulator can become a fighter jet, Tucker said. The VR equipment allows visitors a chance to visit the International Space Station or take a trip through the solar system for a peek at how Airbus is helping scientists explore space. The exhibits were all designed by Orlando-based IDEAS.
In addition to the exhibits, which also feature things like tool demonstrations and lessons, Flight Works provides space for multiple classrooms, a fabrication lab with five 3-D printers and a shop. The lab, shop and classrooms will allow all students — from high schoolers to aerospace professionals — to learn more about the aerospace field and earn special certifications to advance in their careers, Flight Works Alabama board President Michelle Hurdle said.
The facility also includes a drone “aviary,” where visitors can bring their own drones and fly a specially designed course behind the building, Tucker said.
The facility is considered a “tourist attraction” and pre-pandemic studies estimated FlightWorks could see as many as 50,000 visitors per year, according to Hurdle. However, since COVID-19 became an enduring reality, Flight Works plans to limit its capacity when the facility opens next month. Hurdle believes that will have a negative impact on the total number of visitors.
Flight Works will open to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 4. Admission will be $13.50 for those 10 and up and $9 for children between the ages of 4 and 9. Children under the age of 4 can attend free of charge. Tickets are available to purchase online at www.flightworksalabama.com.
Flight Works also announced the opening of summer camps throughout next month for rising seventh graders to high school seniors. Flight Works will host a 3-D printing camp on Aug.10-14, Aug. 17-21 and Aug. 24-28 from 9 a.m. to noon for $130 per student. On the same dates, Flight Works will host a sublimation camp from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for $140 per student. To register for the camps visit a member of the staff, or visit the website.
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