The United States Air Force Academy is located on more than 18,400 beautifully maintained acres, on the East edge of the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado. Each year a new group of cadets are indoctrinated at the US Air Force Academy, at Colorado Springs, Colorado. Much of the more than 18,000 acres operates as other military bases, The Air Force Academy is both a university and military in station, in particular, the 10th Air Base Wing. The area that houses the superintendent, commandant, dean of faculty, and cadet wing resemble a civilian university.
The Superintendent is the Academy’s commanding officer, and is responsible for cadet military training, academic, athletic, and character development programs.
The Commandant monitors the more than 4,400 cadets, in addition to the 300 members of support staff.
More than 500 courses relating to 32 academic subject areas are controlled by the Dean of Commandants.
The 10th Air Base Wing (10th ABW)is comprised of more than 2,100 military, civilian, and contract personnel. The 10th ABW activities include law enforcement, civil engineering, communications, logistics, military and civilian personnel operations, and a clinic and hospital round out the services at the US Air Force Academy.
The Academy is considered as an ‘open’ base, and each year, thousands of people visit the Academy. The Academy’s Visitor Center has historical photos and educational information on display. An informative and educational film can be enjoyed by visitors in the comfortable theater. The Cadet Chapel is open to the public, and the massive sheets of glass that compose the construction of the chapel has been described as an architect wonder.
Visitors are also welcome to visit the Honor Court, Cadet Field House, Arnold Hall, Falcon Athletic Center, the Association of Graduates Building, and Falcon Stadium. Along the way, visitors can stop at several scenic overlooks that provide an unobstructed view of the spacious plains to the East, and the massive Rocky Mountains to the West.
The 306th Flying Training Group (FTG), located at the Academy, screens aviator candidates prior to entrance into the Undergraduate Flight Training program. The 306 FTG provides powered flight soaring and parachuting training to more than 2,500 cadets.
The Cadet dining facility, Mitchell Hall, is on of the largest dining facilities in the world, covering more than 1.7 acres. Three of the glass walls extend from the floor to the ceiling in this dining facility. Each year, more than 3 million meals are prepared and served, and 100,000 box lunches are prepared in support of Cadet Wing programs and activities.
Cadets march into Mitchell Hall, nine abreast. One waiter is in attendance to serve 10 tables. When the cadets take their seats, the meal is served family-style, and is finish the meal in 20 minutes. The entire operation is accomplished by more than 200 civil service employees.
Besides military leadership training and education, cadets are required to maintain a level of physical fitness. Daily fitness routines are incorporated into their busy schedules. Male cadets also have opportunities to be involved with the many sports offered at the Academy. Sports for men include, baseball, basketball, boxing, fencing, golf, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, rifle, soccer, field and track, water polo, wrestling, and football. Sports activities for women include, basketball, cross country, gymnastics, fencing, rifle, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
Cadets have very little free time. Their day begins at 5:30 AM, and go to bed at 10:30 PM. Every evening, personal hygiene and relaxation times are provided. Studying, writing letters to families, and relaxing time is provided prior to the final taps of the day.
Adjustment problems can be expected. Professionally trained officers and upper class cadets are available to help to the new cadet conform to Academy expectations. But, the high educational, physical, and personal demands of cadet life is not for everyone.
Having lived and worked on the US Air Force Academy for more than 16 years, I can tell you that the Academy offers uncompromisable educational and lifestyle opportunities for future military leaders. Although many tears are shed as cadets say ‘good-bye’ to their families, the benefits awaiting them are rewarding. The cadet life requires many adjustments and commitments, and some people are unable to tolerate the demands. So, perhaps a visit to the Academy could be in your best interest before signing on that dotted line.