Air Force Academy Guide

Topics: United States Air Force Academy, Awards and decorations of the United States military, United States Air Force Pages: 417 (106847 words) Published: January 8, 2013
the vision
As aviation advanced after the Wright Brothers’
first flight, the nation’s military aviation service
followed a constantly growing lineage from
1907 to 1947. Officials had discussed the
establishment of an aeronautical academy much
earlier, but it wasn’t until the Air Force became
a separate service in 1947 under the National
Security Act that official plans began.
Still the Air Force Academy plan made little
progress until 1949 when Secretary of Defense
James Forrestal appointed a board of military
and civilian educators. This board, headed by
Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Columbia University
President, and Robert L. Stearns, University of
Colorado President, was tasked to recommend a
general system of education for the Army, Navy
and Air Force.
Congress finally authorized creation of the
Academy in 1954. Harold E. Talbot, thenSecretary of the Air Force, appointed a commission to assist him in selecting the
permanent site. After traveling 21,000 miles
and considering 580 proposed sites in 45 states,
the commission recommended three locations.
The main question of concern for the Colorado
location was if the mountains or wind currents
would affect flight training. Famous aviator
Charles Lindbergh flew over the proposed site
and declared it fit for flying. Secretary Talbot
selected the site near Colorado Springs, and the
state of Colorado contributed $1 million toward
the purchase of the property.

united states air force academy


building the future
In August 1958 the Academy was ready for
occupancy. After completing Basic Cadet
Training at Lowry, the Class of 1962 was bussed
to the north gate and marched five miles up
the hill to the newly constructed cadet area.
Less than a year later the Academy received
academic accreditation, and then the first class
graduated and was commissioned June 3, 1959.
One aspect that sets the Academy apart from
the other military service academies is its
airmanship programs, such as soaring (glider),
powered flight and parachuting training. The
airmanship programs endured many changes
and implementations throughout the years.
Now, more than 800 cadets complete the basic
freefall parachuting course annually, and more
than 550 cadets complete the basic soaring
course annually. Soaring, powered flight and
parachuting all have multiple upgrade courses
and nationally recognized competition teams.
As the Cold War continued through the 1950s
and into the 1960s, the nation’s reliance on
air power as the primary agent of deterrence
highlighted the need for more Air Force officers.
When the Air Force Academy was approved,
cadet strength was set at 2,529, equal to that of
West Point. The Naval Academy, however, had
been authorized 4,417 midshipmen for many
years. On March 3, 1964, President Lyndon
Johnson signed Public Law 88-276, which
authorized both the Air Force Academy and
West Point to expand to the Naval Academy’s
strength. This increase required more facilities
to accommodate the greater number of cadets.


united states air force academy

usafa prep school
the future of usafa
The USAFA Preparatory School was officially
established in 1961 about five miles from the
cadet area. The Prep School was established
for applicants who do not receive a direct
appointment to the Academy. The Prep School
is a 10-month program that prepares cadet
candidates academically, athletically and
militarily and is designed to develop skills and
character necessary for success at
the Academy.

united states air force academy


setting the standard
On July 11, 1955, the same year construction
for the Air Force Academy began, the first
class of 306 men swore in at a temporary site
at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado.
Lt. Gen. Hubert R. Harmon, a key figure in the
development of the Academy was recalled from
retirement to become the first superintendent.
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