The United States Air Force Academy is a public, coeducational military institution of the higher learning. It is one of the five United States military service academies, which train young men and women for military careers. The Academy is an agency of the Department of the Air Force. It stands on an 18,000-acre site in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Air Force Academy is just one option for young men and women in becoming officers in the Air Force.
The Air Force Academy has a very effective purpose, which is to prepare young men and women for careers as officers in the United States Air Force. The training the students receive at the Academy gives them the knowledge and discipline to serve their country as commissioned officers.
The Academy its self, has a very detailed background. In the 1920's, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell urged that the government set up an Air Force academy. Then in 1947, the United States established the Air Force as an independent branch from the Army. Two years later, the secretary of defense appointed a service academy board in 1949, to study the need for another academy. The board recommended that an academy be established to train future Air Force Officers. Finally, Congress authorized the creation of the Air Force Academy in 1954. In July 1955, the first class of male students began training at the temporary Academy site at Lowry Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado. The Academy later moved to its permanent site to Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1964, the government increased the Academy's size from 2,560 students to its current size of 4, 417. Male students were only admitted at this time. Women were finally admitted to the Academy in 1976. Today the Academy continues to train both men and women to be Air Force officers.
Candidates seeking admission to the Academy must be United States citizens, unmarried, of good moral character, and also between the ages of 17 and 22. Candidates must also pass qualifying medical examinations, the candidate fitness test, and college entrance examinations. In addition, candidates must have demonstrated outstanding academic and leadership potential in high school to qualify for an appointment to the Academy.
All qualified candidates must be nominated for the Academy. There are a number of sources for nomination. Candidates can be qualified either by their state's two U.S. senators, their U.S. congressional representative, or the vice president of the United States. Those children of armed forces personnel (on active duty or retired) may apply for nomination by the president of the United States. Nominations are also available to qualified enlisted members of the Air Force and Air Force Reserve. An unlimited number of qualified children of Medal of Honor winners, of deceased or disabled veterans, and of military personnel who are missing or captured are eligible for nomination. Students from military schools of Reserve Officer Training Corps programs in high school and colleges can also be nominated. Residents of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and Guam may also apply to the appropriate authorities for nomination.
Students that get qualified for the Academy are called Air Force cadets. About 1,200 cadets are admitted to the Academy each year. Cadets take four years of academic work leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. They also receive professional military training to earn regular commissions in the United States Air Force. When students enter the Academy they agree to serve four years as a cadet and at least five years as an Air Force officer. As a student, the government provides food, housing, and medical care for the cadets. Each cadet receives a monthly salary for uniforms, textbooks, and personal expenses.
Cadets at the Academy live very active and busy lives. They live in regular cadet dormitories. Their average days are packed with things to do. The day begins with reveille at 6:30 a.m. Before classes the cadets prepare their rooms for inspection and eat breakfast. Classes are held from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. After classes, cadets participate in sports or extra curricular activities. After supper, they study in the dormitory of academy library from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tap sounds at 11 p.m.