updated 5/6/2011 5:47:06 PM ET 2011-05-06T21:47:06

NAS PENSACOLA, Fla., May 6, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the tradition of the U.S. Navy, as bottles of American sparkling wine were smashed across a symbolic "bow" of the land-based training ship, Ambition (CVT-11), the National Flight Academy (NFA) was christened today at the National Naval Aviation Museum   Supported by a $2 million donation from Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), the NFA is the newest learning center in the United States to support advancing America's next generation of students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

National Flight Academy (a)
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Sector Vice President Jim Zortman joins Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong and American Journalist and media host David Hartman at the christening of the National Flight Academy.




National Flight Academy (b)
The ship sponsors christen the symbolic bow of the National Flight Academy, Ambition.




Photos accompanying this release are available at: http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=9655

With local dignitaries, Navy leadership and Northrop Grumman officials in attendance, Apollo 17 Astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Gene Cernan, presented a stirring keynote address, calling on America's children to experience this academy to help them reach for the stars. Cernan was joined by Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who is also a member of the academy's board of advisors. Apollo 13 Commander and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Jim Lovell is also on the board.

The ships' sponsors are Mrs. Kathy Coonan, Mrs. Nancy Fetterman, Mrs. Ry Furlong, Mrs. Charlie Hoewing and Mrs. Phyllis Rasmussen. Located adjacent to the existing National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the NFA is a 102,000 square foot four-story structure designed to be fully immersive and interactive. The facility will host 246 middle and high school students at a time, who can attend a five-day or two-day in-residence program, participating in a realistic and intensive training course that combines classroom fundamentals with hands-on experiences. In this unique high-tech adventure, students join a squadron and engage in missions, based on real-world experiences. The NFA will accept students beginning summer 2012.

"The NFA's adventure begins with a land-based, simulated training aircraft carrier, Ambition (CVT-11). Each deck of Ambition is designed to realistically simulate a modern aircraft carrier," said retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Gerald Hoewing, president and chief executive officer of the National Flight Academy Foundation. "The first deck houses the galley, mess deck, administrative spaces and the main simulator bays. The second deck is dedicated to academic spaces and contains all of the Simulation and Immersion Center spaces. The third and fourth decks house berthing, student aviator lounges and activity rooms."

 "Too many years have passed for me to still be the last man to have left his footprints on the moon. I believe with all my heart that somewhere out there is a boy or girl with indomitable will and courage who will lift that dubious distinction from my shoulders and take us back where we belong," said Cernan. "We need to allow children to reach for the stars and the National Flight Academy will help them do that."

"Northrop Grumman devotes a great deal of time and significant resources toward developing the next generation of engineering and technical expertise. STEM initiatives are at the core of our company's commitment to education and young people, and support for the National Flight Academy is a natural extension of that," said Jim Zortman, sector vice president, life cycle logistics and support, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. Zortman is a retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. and a former Naval Air Forces Commander.

Northrop Grumman supports dozens of programs to foster and expand educational opportunity at all levels. The company, in partnership with the Northrop Grumman Foundation, endorses programs to inspire and encourage student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, funding educational opportunities for students and teachers. For more information, visit: http://www.northropgrumman.com/corporate-responsibility/corporate-citizenship/education-outreach.html

NAS Pensacola is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum and the world-renowned Navy Blue Angels. All this week, Pensacola has celebrated its aviation week heritage with a special tribute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation which is now underway. For more information about Northrop Grumman's role in the Centennial of Naval Aviation, please visit www.northropgrumman.com/naval100 .

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

CONTACT: Dianne Baumert-Moyik
         (516) 754-2645 (Cell)
         dianne.baumert-moyik@ngc.com

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