Colorado Springs holds a special place in the heart of the pilots of the American Air Force. Just north of the city sits the military academy for training United States Air Force cadets for officer rank. Given the immense importance of the American Air Force in both recent history and modern global events, the school has seen many traditions form over the 65 years since its founding. Here’s a look at some of the routine practices and celebrations in the classes of the Air Force Academy.
Becoming enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy is no easy feat. The school only has an acceptance rate of around 12.3%, so passing basic training to become a cadet is something to be proud of. This is signified by an acceptance parade recognizing all passing candidates as official cadets. Cadets march across the school together and receive shoulder broads showing their acceptance as a cadet. It’s an important time for all involved, as it shows not only the skill and dedication of the new recruits, but also signifies the beginning of the hard path forward, as the cadets must prepare for the even tougher challenges ahead as they train to become fully fledged pilots.
The next big step for cadets after reaching their fourth class year is reaching the training requirements to continue in the academy. This recognition is a crucial part of the Air Force Academy experience, providing another milestone for cadets to reach, and a chance for other classes to participate alongside each other in team building events. These events, spread over the course of 3 days consist of things like an assault course, a special event called the “Run to the Rock”, and a wing-wide meal near the end. This is something for all future pilots at the academy to look forward to, and is an important point in their training as well as a bit of fun to break up the stress of learning to be a military pilot.
Graduation is often the most fulfilling moment in a person’s educational experience. Regardless of whether you’re graduating from high school, college, or a military academy, being able to say you’ve pressed through all the challenges in your way and come out on top is a great feeling. A recognized part of some graduations is the tossing of caps into the air by the graduates, and the Air Force Academy has its own spin on this tradition. Some graduates put notes or even money inside of their caps before they toss them. After they’re tossed, children watching on the sides are allowed to rush onto the field and retrieve some caps, and anything they may hold, and take them home. This makes the graduation exciting for all parties both inside and outside of the academy itself, helping younger relatives of graduates be excited for the event, and add some extra flair to the final moment of graduation.
The Air Force Academy north of Colorado springs is place of long standing tradition. Even though it is the youngest of the five service academies in the United States, it holds its own. As a center for the most dedicated and skilled pilots to hone their skills for use in defending the country, the academy shines when it comes to its traditions honoring its cadets. Should you be attempting to enter the academy, or know someone who is, expect to participate in or hear about these events.