U.S. Air Force Academy, CO Image 1
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    U.S. Air Force Academy, CO History

    The United States Air Force Academy was originally proposed in 1918; in 1919 legislation was introduced to establish an air academy for the US Army Air Service, but the bill died in committee. In 1925, General Billy Mitchell, Father of the Air Force, called for the creation of an air academy as part of his strong push to modernize US military air power; this suggestion, with most of his suggestion, was ignored. Not until the late 1940s did serious consideration of an air academy circulate in the right offices. The National Security Act of 1947, which established the Air Force, included a requirement for a dedicated branch academy. In 1950, the Service Academy Board, chaired by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, explored the idea of an air academy and concluded that the two other branch academies were unsuited to Air Force needs. Congress accepted this, and funds were procured.

    A site selection process chose Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the site of the Air Force Academy. Construction began soon, but not soon enough; the first class enrolled in 1955 at Lowry Air Force Base. Establishing a new military academy presents difficulties; in particular the new school had no mascot, no specific Code of Honor, and no upperclassmen. To provide upperclassman guidance, Air Training Officers, already commissioned junior officers, were selected, and gradually phased out as the upper classes populated. The first class soon established the long lasting traditions of the Academy: notably the the selection of the falcon as mascot, the adoption of the Prop & Wings insignia, the adpotion of the cadet saber, the design and adoption of the class ring (the USAF Academy is the only US military branch academy to have a class ring for every class since inception), and the specific Code of Honor. The Academy construction was completed in 1958 and the first moved into Academy housing that year, with accreditation following soon after. The first class of the Academy graduated and was commissioned in June, 1959.

    In 1961 a USAF preparatory school was established to better train cadet candidates. Graduates of the prep school have gone on to high positions and academic excellence in and after USAF Academy graduation.

    Academy class size increased threefold in its first decade, and at the end of its second decade female cadets were admitted to all three armed service academies. This caused some initial friction in the classes, and the first few years were segregated. Female Air Training Officers were brought in to train the earliest female cadets, until their upper class ranks were populated.