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

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

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

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

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

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.

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

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."

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

© 2010 Peggy Woods

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