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United States Air Force Academy facts for kids

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United States Air Force Academy
Type Federal military academy
Established 1 April 1954
Endowment $23.7 Million
Superintendent Lt Gen Michael C. Gould
Administrative staff
600 (approx.) faculty
75% military, 25% civilian
Undergraduates 4,417 cadets
(max. set by Congress)
Location , ,
Campus Air Force base,
18,000 acres (73 km2)
Nickname Fighting Falcons
Colors Blue and Silver
Mascot The Bird

The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA or Air Force) is an American military college. It was created in 1954. The Acadey is an accredited college for the undergraduate education of people who want to be officers for the United States Air Force. The college is north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County. The Academy's goal is "to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation." It is the youngest of the five United States service academies. The Academy had its first graduation in 1959. Graduates of the Academy's four-year program get a Bachelor of Science degree. Most become second lieutenants in the United States Air Force.

The Academy is one of the largest tourist attractions in Colorado. More than a million people visit it each year. Students are called "cadets".

The Air Force Academy is one of the most selective colleges in the United States. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked it tied for 5th place in the category Undergraduate Engineering Programs. Forbes magazine, in 2009, ranked the Academy the #2 public college in the United States and the #7 college overall in its "America's Best Colleges 2009" publication. People wanting to study at the Academy are judged on their academic achievement, leadership, athletics and character. They must pass a fitness test, pass a medical examination, and be nominated by the member of Congress where they live. Recent classes have had about 1,400 cadets. Normally, under 1,000 of the cadets will graduate. The cost of going to the Academy, Housing and food are paid for by the U.S. government. Cadets are paid monthly while at the Academy but they must be a part of the military for a number of years after they graduate.

The program at the Academy is based on the Air Force's core values. These are "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do". They are also based on four "pillars of excellence": military training, academics, athletics and character development. Cadets study military training and large curriculum in engineering, humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, military studies and physical education. All cadets take part in athletics. The academy has a character development and leadership curriculum.


The National Security Act of 1947 started the Air Force within the United States military. Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington made an agreement where up to 25% of West Point and Annapolis graduates could ask to become officers in the new Air Force. This was only meant to happen for a short time. Disagreements between the parts of the military led to the creation of the Service Academy Board. It was created by Secretary of Defense James Forrestal. In January 1950, the Service Academy Board was controlled by Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was the president of Columbia University at the time. The board said that the two U.S. service academies were not able to train enough officers for the Air Force. They decided that an air force academy was needed. President Eisenhower signed a law on 1 April 1954 to begin building the Air Force Academy.

On 7 October 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law that let women study at the United States service academies. On 26 June 1976, 157 women went to the Air Force Academy. . On 28 May 1980, 97 of them finished the program and graduated from the Academy. They made up about 10% of the graduating class. Women now make up about 20% of the classes.

The first Honor scandal happened in 1965. A cadet who was leaving the Academy said that more than 100 cadets had been part of a cheating ring. One hundred and nine cadets had to leave the Academy. Cheating scandals were at the Academy again in 1967, 1972, 1984, 2004. and 2007. After each scandal, the Academy tried to learn why the cheating took place. They also looked at complaints that the academic system put too much pressure on the cadets. Changes were made to try to reduce the events from happening again.

In 2005, there were complaints that some Evangelical Christian cadets and staff were trying to convert others to their religion at the Academy. Because of this and how the Air Force deals other religious issues, Academy graduate Michael L. Weinstein filed a lawsuit against the Air Force.

  • Bruegmann, Robert. Modernism at Mid-Century: The Architecture of the United States Air Force Academy. University of Chicago Press: 1995. ISBN: 0-226-07693-8.
  • Celebrating the U.S. Air Force Academy's Golden Anniversary, (Colorado Springs) Gazette, Special Edition, Spring 2004.
  • Contrails (various years)
  • Fagan, George V. Air Force Academy: An Illustrated History. Johnson Books: 1988. ISBN: 1-55566-032-0.
  • Fifty Years of Excellence: Building Leaders of Character for the Nation, 2004.
  • Lui, Elizabeth Gill. Spirit and Flight: A Photographic Salute to the United States Air Force Academy. 1996. ISBN: 0-9652585-0-5.
  • Nauman, Robert Allen. (2004). On the Wings of Modernism: the United States Air Force Academy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN: 978-0-252-02891-5; OCLC 52542599
  • Schemo, Diana Jean. Skies to Conquer: A Year Inside the Air Force Academy. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: 2010.

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Academia de la Fuerza Aérea de los Estados Unidos para niños

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