Friday, July 4, 2014

U.S. Air Force Academy - 7/01/14

The USAFA was established in 1954 north of Colorado Springs, CO.  The 2014 first year cadets total approximately 1200 students. It is an active military facility and is focused on producing the next military leaders for the Air Force and U.S. in general. Many distinguished individuals are alumni and many are combat veterans.

Access to the Academy is based on the security level as determined by Homeland Security and can change without notice. Entry for the public is via the North Gate only. Photo ID is required and the guard checked the rear of our Mini Cooper.  Also, backpacks or large purses taken into the Visitor Center are subject to search.

Our visit began at the Visitor Center where a map is provided outlining the self-guided tour and the areas of the facility that is open to the public. A 17-minute video can be seen in the Visitor Center theatre that documents the four-year journey a cadet will experience - very well done. There are exhibits and a gift shop there as well.

View from the Visitor Center.

60th Anniversary exhibit.

The Cadet Chapel is one of the most distinctive buildings in the country and is about 1/3 mile walk from the Visitor Center.  It also provides a great view of the of the Cadet Area.

Students entering the Academy in the fall complete the USAF equivalent of basic training.  See below (in red hats).
Cadet housing.

The Chapel has multiple areas of worship based on your religious convictions. All of them are housed in this beautiful building.

The largest is the Protestant Chapel...and it is stunning.

A very impressive pipe organ is in the balcony at the rear of the chapel.

On the floor below is the Catholic Chapel.

There is a chapel to be used by Jewish Cadets as well as a Buddhist sanctuary both on the floor below the Catholic Chapel. Be sure to see all of them if you visit.

Buddhist Sanctuary.

There was also a Muslim area that was not open when we visited.

We continued on the self-guided tour in our vehicle that included:
  • Doolittle Hall - exhibits and gift shop
  • Falcon Stadium - used for football games and graduation; built in 1962; seats approximately 46.500
  • Cadet Field House/Athletic Center - academy sports hall of fame display.
  • Several overlooks to view Academic, Athletic, and Chapel settings.
  • B-52 Display
The B-52 bomber has been the backbone of America's manned bomber force for more than half a century.  It was amazing to see this aircraft in person. Some specifications:
  • Delivered 1956 and retired 1983
  • Wingspan 185'
  • Length 156'
  • Maximum weight 450,000 lbs (including bomb load of 60,000 lbs)
  • Speed 650 mph
  • Ceiling 55,000'
  • Total fuel capacity 44,500 gallons
  • Un-refueled range 6,000 miles
  • Crew members - 6
This is the B-52 Stratofortress, "Diamond L'il."  It is one of two B-52s credited with a mig kill during the Vietnam war.

Between 1965 and 1973, B-52s flew over 125,00 combat missions over Southeast Asia. More recently, during Desert Storm 31% of the bombs dropped were carried by B-52s. This aircraft continues to be in the inventory of our military.

The Chapel and this aircraft were the highlights of our visit. There is no fee to visit the USAFA.


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