Colorado is home to one of the most important military academies in the world: the United States Air Force Academy. This institution located just north of Colorado Springs instructs over 1,000 U.S. Air Force troops every year and offers an ultimate standard of higher education. Here are a few interesting facts about USAFA that you should know:
The youngest service academy in the U.S.
The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs was founded in 1954, which makes it the youngest service academy in the country, even though today it is one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.
Although plans for opening an air force academy first appeared in 1918, the final decision for its establishment was not taken until the early 1950s. It took two world wars to convince the authorities that a higher education academy was needed to properly instruct future pilots and air force personnel.
Creed and core values
The USAFA is renowned for producing some of the best professionals in the military field. Alumni of the academy receive a Bachelor of Service degree and become commissioned lieutenants in the US Air Force.
The academy has a well-established tradition of preparing young people for a successful carrier in the military. Their mission is “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become leaders of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.” Additionally, they inspire core values that are included in their creed, which is “Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.”
Location and facilities
Before its establishment in Colorado Springs, the authorities considered several other locations for the United States Air Force Academy. Some of them included Prescott, Arizona; Linn, Wisconsin and Alton, Illinois.
Colorado Springs was chosen as the final location due to its positioning and elevation above sea level, which stands at 7,258 feet. The USAFA is located on the east side of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains where it covers a total area of 18,455 acres.
The entire academy is the work of famous designer and architect Walter Netsch, who moved from Chicago to Colorado Springs for the entire duration of its construction. Today, the USAFA benefits from a wide range of facilities that include the cadet area, commemorative displays, an air academy high school, and a state of the art training base. Most of these locations are open for public access, and the academy receives over 1 million tourists every year.
The US Air Force tracks Santa
Some of the United States Air Force Academy alumni continue their military academy by working for the US Air Force Defense Command. This department has a special annual commitment to “track Santa Clause” during its gift-giving route every Christmas Eve.
The famous tradition started in 1955 when the USAF told children that they could call a number and find out Santa’s whereabouts before Christmas morning. Nowadays, people in over 200 countries can call the number and find out if the jolly old man is anywhere close to their neighborhood.