Fly with SOFIA in 2015!
SOFIA in flight. 
(NASA/Jim Ross)

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is now accepting applications for the  Cycle 3 – 2015 Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) Program. The AAA program is an exciting and unique opportunity for educators.  The teams that are selected receive online astronomy instruction, and a trip to Palmdale, CA to participate in two SOFIA Science Flights. The science flights offer educators interaction with astronomers, engineers and technicians on board the aircraft, and a view to the collaboration that leads to astronomical data collection and the research papers that follow. 
The eligibility and program requirements are summarized below and detailed at In brief, one team member must be a science teacher, the other team member may be a teacher, informal educator (e.g.- educator at a science center, librarian implementing community programming), or amateur astronomer. The program pays all costs. 
 Applications are due December 22, 2014.
SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program summary:
SOFIA is a 747SP aircraft carrying a 2.5 meter-diameter telescope dedicated to astronomical research at altitudes up to 45,000 ft. The scientific research team, including AAA program participants, work in the pressurized main cabin. The 8 – 10 hour flight experience will be similar in environmental conditions to a regular commercial airline flight, although interior noise level will be higher and the cabin will be cooler. Participants  will observe an operating astronomical facility first-hand and interact with scientists, engineers, and flight crew.
The program aims to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in communities across the U.S.; support NASA’s objective to advance the Nation’s STEM education by engaging students, teachers and faculty in NASA’s missions and unique assets; contribute to general public understanding of the value of scientific research; and foster national and international visibility of NASA’s SOFIA mission.

SOFIA AAA Cycle 3 selected educator team members each commit to participate in overnight observing mission(s) aboard SOFIA during science flights likely to be scheduled during May, June, and September 2015 (actual dates TBD); participate in pre- and post-flight training and meetings associated with SOFIA flights and scientific research; travel to SOFIA’s base in Palmdale, CA on a Sunday or Monday and depart the following Friday or Saturday (program covers all costs); develop or modify existing materials, and implement a SOFIA-oriented classroom curriculum component and/or informal education curriculum component of their design; plan and implement a SOFIA-oriented public outreach component of their design; successfully and complete the online Astronomy  For Teachers course administered by Montana State University and the National Teacher Enhancement Network (NTEN). The course will be held mid-February – mid-May, and will require approximately 12 – 15 hours of work per week.

This is a very exciting program! Again, for more information and to apply go to
Image of SOFIA ambassadors working on a flight

Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (from left) Constance Gartner, Vince Washington, Ira Hardin and Chelen Johnson at the educators' workstation aboard the SOFIA observatory during a flight on the night of Feb. 12-13, 2013. (NASA / SETI Institute / Pam Harman)
Image and text from SOFIA press release