Photos of U.S. Air Force Academy and Chapel in Colorado Springs
In July of 1999, my mother and I spent eleven glorious days in the State of Colorado. We were to visit the United States Air Force Academy on two different occasions and the photos that I took on those days will reflect differences in the lighting and clouds.
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 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.
U.S. Air Force Song - I heard this often proudly sung by my Dad.
A Bit of Family History
The Army and what is now known as the Air Force used to be combined.
During World War II my Dad who had volunteered for service was attending the U.S. Army's Airborne School at Fort Benning in Georgia.
He was learning to become a pilot but suddenly the program that he was enrolled in was terminated.
Apparently military experts determined that they already had enough pilots for their immediate needs and thus all of those including my Dad had to shift their attention elsewhere.
My Dad became a paratrooper.
He kidded for all the remaining years of his life that if he could not fly the airplanes, at least he could ride in them one way.
He would have loved to have become a pilot but providing for his family and a few major obstacles along life's path precluded that from ever occurring.
View of the Air Force Academy buildings as we were approachingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Additional History of the Air Force
When it was determined that the flying aspect of the military merited its own branch of the service, the National Security Act of 1947 first brought the Air Force into being.
The service academy board was headed by Dwight D. Eisenhower 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 to read 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 7 years of age) knew Charles Lindbergh personally according to my grandmother.
My grandfather was in World War 1 and had flown on those early airplanes.
Information about the B-52 BomberClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Air Force Academy Chapel
Undoubtedly the most striking feature and 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.
An interesting use of aluminum was utilized on the exterior of the buildings which might suggest that used on airplanes.
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.
Visiting the Chapel
The Air Force Chapel is an amazing structure as viewed from the outside.
Some would describe the exterior as looking like an "accordion" shaped building. Others would interpret it as a grouping of fighter pilot airplanes lined up facing skyward.
Be sure and go inside to see where the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish cadets worship.
Apparently other arrangements have since been made to meet the religious needs of cadets from other religions, but these photos below show what we viewed on that day in 1999.
When first walking in to the Air Force Chapel, the largest 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 must offer different arrays of glittering light depending upon the time of day and weather conditions outside. Each person taking a picture probably gets different results because of this.
On a lower level there is seating for 500 Catholics and 100 Jewish cadets.
Undoubtedly this is a normal 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.
The Jewish portion of the Air Force Academy ChapelClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 period of time if not for an entire career.
One must be nominated by a member of Congress 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 of time in return for all he/she has been given.
According to a U.S. News and World Report, the acceptance rate of applicants for the Fall of 2008 was 18.2%.
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 a good education and great opportunities that lie ahead.
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."
One day as my mother and I were driving in to see the Air Force Academy one last time, there were hundreds of bicyclers on the road obviously engaging in some sort of marathon.
They certainly had gorgeous surroundings in which to bike ride!
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.
My mother and I were both very much impressed with what we got to see of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and would highly recommend a visit if one is in that area.
Hopefully my photos and the other pictures and videos inserted give one an idea of the spacious campus and surroundings that the cadets enjoy while attending that institution.
Have you been to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs?
United States Air Force Academy
If you are in Colorado Springs you might also wish to check out these nearby places!
- Garden of the Gods - Pictures of Spectacular City Park in Colorado Springs
Where can one walk, bike ride, rock climb & enjoy nature in a spectacular city park filled with dramatic sandstone formations tucked up against the lofty Pikes Peak Mountain? It is the Garden of the Gods! Photos & videos.
- Pikes Peak Mountain Sightseeing Bus Tour ~ Colorado Springs Vacation Pictures
One can assend this "Purple Mountain Majesty" in a number of ways...mountain climbing, cog railway, bus tours or even auto racing. The views from the lofty top of Pikes Peak are worth it no matter how one gets there!
- Pictures of Indian Dancers & Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs, Colorado
Pictures & videos of the Eagle Dance, Hoop Dance & others which are performed daily by Native American Indians dressed in colorful feathered costumes at the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings.
© 2010 Peggy Woods