Visiting the U.S. Air Force Academy and Chapel in Colorado Springs

Updated on September 9, 2019
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado
U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado | Source

Top Tourist Attraction

The United States Air Force Academy is one of the top tourist destinations for people visiting Colorado Springs, and after seeing it, I can understand the reasons why. My mother and I visited the site on two different occasions and enjoyed both of our visits there.

Colorado Springs was determined to be the location of the youngest of five United States service academies, and the first class of cadets graduated in 1959.

The campus buildings overall are of a very sleek and modern design with the amazing chapel as a focal point of interest. On April 1, 2004, the cadet area was named a National Historic Landmark.

Taken on Air Force Academy grounds, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Taken on Air Force Academy grounds, Colorado Springs, Colorado | Source

The Campus and Athletics

There are 18,000 acres (73 km) making up this Air Force Academy campus. Elevation is 7,258 (2,212 m) above sea level. The grounds are extensive and contain 57 athletic fields using up 140 acres on this site.

Since all cadets not only have to pass a rigorous physical exam to be admitted to the Air Force Academy but must also enroll in athletics during all four years of their attendance, there is much offered to meet those needs. According to Sports Illustrated, the Air Force Academy is "the most athletic school in the country." You name the type of sport, and it is probably provided there. Their Clune Arena seats 6,000 people.

The Peregrine Falcon is the Air Force Academy mascot.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) mascot, Apollo, sits on the lure after completing a halftime show during the USAFA Falcons football game against the Idaho State Bengals at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 1, 2012.Closer view of the Air Force Academy buildings as we were approachingAir Force Academy grounds Falcon Stadium at the U.S. Air Force AcademyGolf course on the Air Force Academy grounds Cadet Ice Arena at the U.S. Air Force AcademyFootball at the U.S. Air Force AcademyCadet 1st Class Mike Heddinger lets the U.S. Air Force Academy mascot catch a food-laden lure during training.
The U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) mascot, Apollo, sits on the lure after completing a halftime show during the USAFA Falcons football game against the Idaho State Bengals at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 1, 2012.
The U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) mascot, Apollo, sits on the lure after completing a halftime show during the USAFA Falcons football game against the Idaho State Bengals at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 1, 2012. | Source
Closer view of the Air Force Academy buildings as we were approaching
Closer view of the Air Force Academy buildings as we were approaching | Source
Air Force Academy grounds
Air Force Academy grounds | Source
Falcon Stadium at the U.S. Air Force Academy
Falcon Stadium at the U.S. Air Force Academy | Source
Golf course on the Air Force Academy grounds
Golf course on the Air Force Academy grounds | Source
Cadet Ice Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy
Cadet Ice Arena at the U.S. Air Force Academy | Source
Football at the U.S. Air Force Academy
Football at the U.S. Air Force Academy | Source
Cadet 1st Class Mike Heddinger lets the U.S. Air Force Academy mascot catch a food-laden lure during training.
Cadet 1st Class Mike Heddinger lets the U.S. Air Force Academy mascot catch a food-laden lure during training. | Source

Admission and Academics

The U.S. Air Force Academy is an accredited institution of higher learning providing undergraduate degrees in a variety of subjects. The primary intent is to graduate commissioned officers to serve in our military for a while if not for an entire career. The ratios of students to faculty are eight to one.

One must be nominated by a member of Congress, a senator, the Vice President of the United States or a highly placed person in the military to be considered for admission and meet high standards intellectually, morally and physically.

If accepted, the U.S. government pays the cadets tuition, room, and board and even provides a monthly stipend. In return, after graduating the newly commissioned officer agrees to serve in the armed forces for a set period in return for all he/she has been given.

According to the latest statistics, the acceptance rate of applicants for the years 2017 - 2018 was 11%. So while it may not be easy to get admitted to the Air Force Academy or the other service institutions, one can be assured that if one is accepted, one will exit with proper education and great opportunities that lie ahead.

Mock up of a typical cadet's room on display
Mock up of a typical cadet's room on display | Source

Cadet Honor Code

Inscribed on an exterior wall was the following: "We will not lie, steal and or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does."

Added to the following and recited by all freshman cadets after passing basic training (since 1984) is the following: "Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God."

Cadets marching on the grounds at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Cadets marching on the grounds at the U.S. Air Force Academy. | Source

The Air Force Academy Chapel

Undoubtedly the most striking feature plus iconic symbol on the U.S. Air Force Academy grounds is the chapel. The lead architect was Walter Netsch of the firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Some describe the exterior as looking like an "accordion" shaped building. Others interpret it as a grouping of fighter pilot airplanes lined up facing skyward.

When first walking into the Air Force Chapel, the most significant open space on that level is for the Protestants with accommodations for about 1,300 of them.

The lighting from the stained glass on either side of the folded design going up to the ceiling offers different arrays of glittering light depending upon the time of day and weather conditions outside.

On a lower level, there is seating for 500 Catholics and 100 Jewish cadets. Undoubtedly this is a typical statistical ratio of religious preference out of a large group of cadets attending the academy, thus the discrepancy in the amount of seating to accommodate them.

Other arrangements have since been made to meet the spiritual needs of cadets from different religions.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Class of 2012 basic trainees march past the Cadet Chapel on the first day of basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., June 26, 2008. In-procesing marks the start of 38 days of Basic Cadet Training. U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan 	 The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Academy, Colorado SpringsU.S. Air Force ChapelInside the Protestant part of the chapelCatholic portion of the Air Force chapel Pretty stained glass windows in the Catholic part of the chapel at the Air Force AcademyJewish portion of the Air Force Academy chapel Jewish portion of the Air Force Academy chapel More than 1,300 basic cadets salute June 26 during their first reveille formation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Class of 2012 basic trainees march past the Cadet Chapel on the first day of basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., June 26, 2008. In-procesing marks the start of 38 days of Basic Cadet Training. U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan
The Class of 2012 basic trainees march past the Cadet Chapel on the first day of basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., June 26, 2008. In-procesing marks the start of 38 days of Basic Cadet Training. U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan | Source
 	 The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs
The Cadet Chapel at United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs | Source
U.S. Air Force Chapel
U.S. Air Force Chapel | Source
Inside the Protestant part of the chapel
Inside the Protestant part of the chapel | Source
Catholic portion of the Air Force chapel
Catholic portion of the Air Force chapel | Source
Pretty stained glass windows in the Catholic part of the chapel at the Air Force Academy
Pretty stained glass windows in the Catholic part of the chapel at the Air Force Academy | Source
Jewish portion of the Air Force Academy chapel
Jewish portion of the Air Force Academy chapel | Source
Jewish portion of the Air Force Academy chapel
Jewish portion of the Air Force Academy chapel | Source
More than 1,300 basic cadets salute June 26 during their first reveille formation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
More than 1,300 basic cadets salute June 26 during their first reveille formation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. | Source

Arnold Hall

A place that we visited with great interest is Arnold Hall, which is a museum honoring Air Force personnel. It is worth spending some time there.

Hopefully, my photos and the other pictures and videos inserted give one an idea of the large campus and surroundings that the cadets enjoy while attending that institution. I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever in Colorado Springs.

Air Force Academy grounds - Visitors can picnic in this area and some were taking advantage of this beautiful outdoor setting.
Air Force Academy grounds - Visitors can picnic in this area and some were taking advantage of this beautiful outdoor setting. | Source

History of The Air Force

The Army and what is now known as the Air Force used to be combined. When it was determined that the flying aspect of the military merited its branch of the service, the National Security Act of 1947 first brought the Air Force into being.

Dwight D. Eisenhower headed the service academy board in 1950. Congress took action to pass legislation in 1954 to begin construction for this new branch of service and then President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law.

I was very interested in reading that Charles Lindbergh was on the advisory committee to determine the site for the new service academy. The reason? My dad's father (who died when my dad was only seven years of age) knew Charles Lindbergh personally, according to my grandmother. My grandfather was in World War 1 and had flown on those early versions of airplanes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
B-52 Bomber on Air Force Academy grounds
B-52 Bomber on Air Force Academy grounds
B-52 Bomber on Air Force Academy grounds | Source
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Have you been to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs?

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United States Air Force Academy

A
4102 Pinion Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80840:
4102 Pinion Dr, Air Force Academy, CO 80840, USA

get directions

My dad often proudly sang this song.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Peggy Woods

    Comments are welcomed!

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      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        3 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Thanks Robert. Will keep that in mind if I decide to search for it.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        3 years ago

        It was probably an early to mid- 1960s movie for what it's worth.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        3 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Robert,

        That would have been a fun movie for me to see. Perhaps I will tumble upon it someday. At least I know one was made concerning that period of time and subject matter. Thanks for the info.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        3 years ago

        Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the movie or any of the actors.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        3 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Robert,

        I am sure that many young men were disappointed when that pilot program was disbanded during WWII as was my father. I never saw that comedic movie. Do you remember the name of it?

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        3 years ago

        Nice pictures, good overview of an Academy tour. I believe they made a movie, a comedy, about your father's experience. It was about a bunch of men being trained to be pilots but the program were terminated and instead of being commissioned they were made to serve out their time as buck privates.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Shyron,

        Hope you get a chance to see it someday as it is very impressive. Many or our WWII vets came home not talking about what they had seen during that war. Thanks for your votes and the share.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        5 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Au fait,

        This Air Force chapel is so unique in structure and definitely a good place to visit if one has the time when in Colorado Springs. Nice to see the area where our young men and women train also. Thanks for the votes and shares.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        5 years ago from Texas

        Peggy, I love all your pictures. I have visited Colorado but not the Academy, I would love to visit someday.

        My biological father was in WWII, and he never talked about the Army when he came home.

        Voted up UABI and shared.

        Have a blessed night.

        Shyron

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 

        5 years ago from North Texas

        Another place I have never been despite circling the state of Colorado numerous times and living there for 2 years. The chapel looks beautiful and you have amazing photos as usual. Looks like a great place to visit while on summer vacation. Gave you 5 more stars, voted up and interesting/awesome. Pinned to my 'Travel' board and will share with followers and on FB.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi moonlake,

        The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is certainly a beautiful campus and that chapel is such a striking architectural building that it really makes a statement. Hope that you get to see it in person someday. Thanks for the vote up and the share.

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 

        6 years ago from America

        How neat I would like to see the academy will share this. Like always great pictures. Voted up.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi John,

        So glad to be able to inform you about the U.S. Air Force Academy. Thanks for the appreciative remark about the photos. We were in awe of the chapel architecture! Thanks for your comment.

      • John Sarkis profile image

        John Sarkis 

        7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

        Hi Peggy, and what an excellent and informative hub this is. I had no idea of any of this. Sounds like a great place to vacation. By the way, awesome photos.

        Voted up and away

        John

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Springboard,

        Glad that you liked this hub about the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Happy to hear that your sister came back from her tour in Iraq/Kuwait OK. She deserves much credit for her service to our country!

      • Springboard profile image

        Springboard 

        9 years ago from Wisconsin

        Excellent hub, and one more for the troops. :) My sister is an ex-Air Force staff seargant. She was in 10 years and did a 6 month tour in Iraq/Kuwait with the 47th Combat Support, air mobility command.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Greeings Hello, hello,

        Glad you liked this hub about the Air Force Academy and especially that chapel on the grounds which truly is amazing. Thanks for the comment.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        9 years ago from London, UK

        Fasckinitatin article you wrote there and the pictures, expecially the chapel, were great. Thank you the tour.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi sarovai,

        My memory isn't quite that good! Ha! After vacation trips I would immediately put together photo albums with notations of what was done each day. Would also take daily notes. Without that source of reference I wouldn't be writing hubs like this. Happy to hear that you enjoyed this look at the Colorado Springs U.S. Air Force Academy. Too bad my Dad never got to complete his dream of becoming a pilot. He never lost his fascination with airplanes. Thanks for the comment.

      • sarovai profile image

        sarovai 

        9 years ago

        After 11years , really you are good in memory. Thank u for the photos you shared and about your dad's dream to be a Airforce Pilot. Airforce academy is a good place to visit.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello E M Smith,

        Looks like more Ethel because of breaking these trip memories into segments. Can elaborate on each segment more that way instead of just listing what was done on an entire vacation. I think that it is more interesting that way...at least I hope so. Yes, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is definitely an interesting place to visit. Thanks for visiting via the Internet!

      • E M Smith profile image

        E M Smith 

        9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

        You do get about Peggy :) This looks an interesting place to visit

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Candie,

        Yes, I imagine the security is tighter now after 9/11. And yes, pictures of the chapel cannot really do justice to the beauty of those stained glass windows or even the overall effect.

        Your friend's son must have been a great kid to be accepted into the Air Force Academy! We have some friends whose son is in The Citadel. He was not only brilliant but was an Eagle Scout among other things. These service academies only take the brightest and best kids!

        Nice that you got to see the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. How is your friend's son doing? Did he make the military a career?

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello msorensson,

        Thanks! Enjoyed giving people some idea of just how beautiful the setting is at the Air Force Academy.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello FCEtier,

        That chapel on the grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy certainly makes a statement! It is amazing to see in person but glad that you can get some idea of what it is like in pictures. Thanks for the comment.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Micky Dee,

        Thanks for pushing my buttons. Ha! Seriously, I appreciate you reading my hubs like this one about the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and leaving comments. I agree with you...that chapel is outstanding!

      • Candie V profile image

        Candie V 

        9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

        WooHoo! Finally somewhere I have been! I have a friend and her son went to the academy in the early 80s and we went to visit him (thinking you can just drop in and say howdy to a new recruit).. Well.. uh not quite. Pre 9/11 you could access the Academy but under the ever watchful eyes of the security.

        Your pictures don't do the chapel justice. The grounds are spectacular, but the chapel is breathtaking!! It's almost impossible for a snap to show the stained glass windows well! (Not that you didn't try, mind you!)

        Thank you to all who serve! Support you with my whole heart! Thank you Peggy!

      • msorensson profile image

        msorensson 

        9 years ago

        Awesome. Thanks, Peggy!!

      • FCEtier profile image

        Chip 

        9 years ago from Cold Mountain

        That chapel is impressive! Great photos, too!

      • Micky Dee profile image

        Micky Dee 

        9 years ago

        I hit your buttons as always Peggy. It's another beautiful presentation. What a chapel!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Billy,

        Doesn't matter. Your comment about the B-52 was certainly accurate as having been a big part of U.S. aviation history.

      • billyaustindillon profile image

        billyaustindillon 

        9 years ago

        Peggy yes I am not sure what Iw as thinking there - getting area 51 and the air force confused maybe :)

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Mike,

        As you might imagine, seeing the Air Force Academy Chapel in person is even better than the photos, but as an artist you would know that. I would highly recommend a visit if you go to Colorado Springs. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

      • Mike Lickteig profile image

        Mike Lickteig 

        9 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

        I have been to Colorado many times but have never visited the Air Force Academy. The Chapel(s) are quite beautiful and must surely be inspiring to see in person. And, of course, the mountains in the background make me long to return to Colorado sometime soon.

        Thanks for sharing another great series of photos.

        Mike

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Billy,

        Am sure you meant to say Colorado instead of California. Yes...the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs is certainly futuristic! Thanks for rating this hub awesome.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello eovery,

        Since you have visited the U.S. Air Force Academy a couple of times, you know just how lovely it and the surrounding area happens to be in Colorado Springs. Thanks for affirming our impressions and leaving your comment.

      • billyaustindillon profile image

        billyaustindillon 

        9 years ago

        Another great piece of history Peggy - the B-52 was much apart of U.S. history. It is appropriate it is in high altitude in California. The chapel is very futuristic - rated up awesome!

      • eovery profile image

        eovery 

        9 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

        I visited there a couple of times. It is a lovely are.

        Keep on hubbing!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        9 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi dahoglund,

        Glad you enjoyed viewing the photos taken while we visited the U.S. Air Force Academy. It was a definite attraction that my mother and I wanted to see while in Colorado Springs. I haven't visited any of the other service academies so will take your impression as to the formality. The wide open spaces of this one in Colorado surrounded by the Rockies makes it such a beautiful site. Thanks for the first comment.

      • dahoglund profile image

        Don A. Hoglund 

        9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

        Hi Peggy W,

        I remember when the Air Force Academy was first established as there were magazine article at the time.What most impressed me was the range of curriculum. The other academies, I understand offer degrees in Engineering but not liberal arts. At least not back then. The Air Force, I think, was the romantic adventure in our day. Now all the services have their own air forces, so it gets confusing.

        The Air Force also seems more laid back than the others. You can tell it when you go to one of their installations. You pictures bring out the more modern and somewhat less formal attitude of the Air Force. Nice hub.

      working

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