The following highlights are from 60 years of Air Force Academy history and were compiled by Steve Simon from Academy communications.
1954 -- President Eisenhower signs Public Law 325, Eighty-third Congress,
Second Session, the legislation that establishes the Air Force Academy.
1958 -- The Department of Military History and Geography is renamed the
Department of Geography.
1958 -- The Department of Astronautics is activated.
1959 -- The first Academy Assembly opens with 60 undergraduate representatives
from 30 colleges. The theme was
"International Stability and Progress" and Paul H.Nitze,an expert on
military power and strategic arms who later served as Deputy Secretary of
Defense,delivered the keynote address.
1964 -- The sixth annual Air Force Academy Assembly begins. Principal speakers include Secretary of the
Air Force Eugene M. Zuckert and Mr. James E. Webb, Administrator of the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
1974 -- The Air Force Academy Band is forced to reduce its size by 29 people,
so the Drum and Bugle Corps is eliminated.
1979 -- CMSgt Ronald Miller becomes the Academy's fourth Cadet Wing Sergeant
1993 -- The Senate Armed Services Committee proposes deactivating the three
service academy bands. Three months
later, the United States Air Force Academy Band is assigned to Air Force Space
Command and designated as the Band of the Rockies.
2004 -- In conjunction with the Academy's 50th "birthday,"the Academy's Cadet
Area is designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the
Interior. In addition, the U.S. Postal
Service issues a commemorative 37-cent stamp featuring the Cadet Chapel.
2004 -- Lieutenant General Hubert R. Harmon is named "The Father of the U.S.
Air Force Academy."
2004 -- The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library sponsors a gala in
Doolittle Hall to celebrate the release of The Friends-sponsored DVD on the
first 50 years of the Air Force Academy, Expect Great Things. On hand were more than 200 guests. Former Academy Superintendent Lieutenant
General Brad Hosmer, Class of '59, introduced the showing of the DVD.
1892 -- Hubert R. Harmon, the "Father of the Air Force Academy" and its first
Superintendent, is born in Chester, Pennsylvania.
1959 -- The Department of Aerodynamics announces that calibration had been
started for the transonic wind tunnel; the tunnel was designed for pressure of
3000 pounds per square inch, allowing it to more closely simulate free flight
conditions than most other tunnels of comparable size.
1963 -- The fifth annual Academy Assembly begins, with the theme "Secretary of State." Secretary of State Dean Rusk and General Ira
C. Eaker attended the event.
1949 -- The Service Academy Board recommends the establishment of an air force
1983 -- Karol Bobko, Class of '59, becomes the first Air Force Academy graduate
in space, as pilot of the Challenger crew on mission STS-6. This was the Challenger's maiden flight.
2002 -- The Academy begins hosting the three-day Former Superintendents Conference. Four of the seven former superintendents
attended the event, intended to provide the Superintendent with advice and
opinions on key Academy issues, update the former superintendents on Academy
issues and plans, and allow former superintendents to participate in Founders
2002 -- The Academy and the Association of Graduates present the first two
Distinguished Graduate Awards. The first
recipients are General (Retired) Ron Fogleman, Class of '63, and Mr. Harry
Pearce, Class of '64.The award honors graduates "whose lifetime of achievement
is of such significance as to set them apart from their contemporaries."
2008 -- Cadet Ryan Mudry, Class of '09, receives recognition for his research
into an implant device for glaucoma treatment at the 45th International Meeting
of the Rocky Mountain Bioengineering Symposium.
Involved in research at the Academy's Life Sciences Research Center, he
was the first undergraduate to receive the Program Chairman's Award for
2010 -- Air Force Academy researcher Stefan Siegel forms Atargis, a wave-energy
company launched from research in the Academy'sAeronautics Department.
1954 -- Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott establishes the Air Force
Academy Site Selection Commission.
1954 -- The Department of the Air Force mails a form letter and questionnaire
to all architectural firms that had expressed an interest in the academy
1967 -- A dedication ceremony isheld on the Terrazzofor the F-104 Starfighter, an
aircraft retired from the flight test program at Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft remained on the Terrazzo until
replaced by the F-15 in 1994.
1999 -- The Academy instruction establishing the Distinguished Graduate Award is
issued. The award honors a graduate
"whose lifetime of achievement is of such significance as to set them apart
from their contemporaries." It has been
presented to two graduates annually since 2002.
2000 -- Air Force hosts the three-day National Collegiate Boxing Association
National Championships. Twelve Air Force
Academy boxers qualified for Nationals, and the team won the championship for
the second consecutive year.
2008 -- First Lieutenant Prichard R. Keely, Class of '04, flies the mission for
which he received the 2010 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship. LieutenantKeely, leadWeapon Systems Officer
of an F-15E two-ship, distinguished himself through his heroic actions
supporting United States and Afghan National Army ground forces in the Nuristan
province of Afghanistan.
1956 -- The baseball program plays its first game, a 15-9 loss to Colorado
Mines at Lowry Air Force Base.
1964 -- The 1964 National AAU Platform Diving Championships are held at the
2003 -- After providing close-air support of ground troops in Baghdad, the A-10
flown by Captain Kim Campbell, Class of '97, is struck by a surface-to-air
missile. Despite losing hydraulics, she
was able to land safely in Kuwait. She
received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the mission.
1987 -- Dr. David MacIsaac from Airpower Research Institute presents the 30th
Harmon Lecture, "Leadership in the Old Air Force: A Post-Graduate
8 April 1995
-- Former President George H. W. Bush is presented the 1994 Thomas D. White
Award during a visit to the Air Force Academy.
The award, established in 1962, is presented annually to a U.S. citizen
who has contributed significantly to the national defense of the United States.
1964 -Headquarters Air Force approves the Academy'ssplit-curriculum concept, a
program wherein each cadet would graduate with a major, the first in service
2000 -- Joe Scott is introduced as head coach of the men's basketball
team. Scott installs the Princeton
offense and returns the program to winning form, highlighted by the Mountain
West Conference Championship in 2004.
2003 -- The Special Collections Branch of the Air Force Academy Library is
renamed the Lieutenant General A. P. Clark Special Collections Branch.
1977--The Academy's Wings of Blue parachute team beats the Army's Golden
Knights in team accuracy for the first time ever at the U.S. National meet.
1984 -- Academy officials notify local media of a major honor
investigation. A Physics 411 exam had
been compromised. The incident resulted
in an extensive review of the honor code.
The Superintendent, Lieutenant General Skip Scott,suspended the code and
granted amnesty for a short period of time.
One result was that the Cadet Wing voted to add the Honor Oath.
1962-Four cadets perform their first skydives, setting in motion a process that
would result in the establishment of the Academy's Wings of Blue parachute team.
1994 -- Second Lieutenant Laura Piper, Class of '92, becomes the first female
graduate to die in a combat zone. She
was a passenger in a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter on a diplomatic/humanitarian
mission in the "No Fly" zone of northern Iraq that was shot down by
two U.S. F-15C aircraft.Posthumously promoted to the grade of First Lieutenant,
she was also the first female Academy graduate to receive the Purple Heart.
1965 -- The Academy hosts the first International Conference of Programming and
1966 -- Vice President Hubert Humphrey begins a two-day visit to the Academy. He also visited the Academy in January 1970.
2009 -- Captain Chesley Sullenberger, Class of '73,is presented with the 2009
Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship during a Terrazzo Parade. He was
recognized for landing US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River on 15 January
2009. He shared the 2009 Jabara Award
with Captain Travis Burton, Class of '00.
1956 -- Architects present a full-size mockup of a cadet room to Air Force
The biography of Lieutenant General Hubert Harmon, Harmon: Airman,
Officer, Father of the Air Force Academy by Phillip Meilinger, sponsored by
The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library, is released.
2009 -- The General Hubert R. Harmon Memorial, a gift from the Class of '59 with
support from the Air Training Officers and the Harmon family, is dedicated
during '59's fifty-year reunion. Due to
blizzard conditions, the dedication takes place in Arnold Hall, after which
most attendees braved the elements to visit the site.
2012 -- The Academy Cyber Competition Team wins the 2012 NSA Cyber Defense
Exercise. The cadet team not only
defeated West Point, Annapolis and the Coast Guard Academy, but also scored
higher than both teams from the Air Force Institute of Technology and one from
the RoyalMilitary College of Canada.
2013 -- The AcademyCyber Competition Team wins the NSA interservice Cyber
Defense Exercise forthe second year in a row.
2000 -- The Commandant of Cadets sponsors a Casual Day. This was the first (and last?) time cadets
were allowed to wear civilian clothes to class.
The casual day was to reward the Cadet Wing's outstanding performance during
the semester and for its generosity in support of Wing Open Charities.
2003 -- Rhodes Scholar Bart Holaday, Class of '65, and his wife Lynn establish
a scholarship to send cadets to Oxford University. The Holaday Scholarship, named in honor of
his mother, is awarded annually to the top-ranking Academy graduate who
competes for but does not win a Rhodes Scholarship.
1968 -- With construction complete, the final acceptance and transfer of the
Field House is made.
1993 -- The Recycling Center is opened just outside the South Gate.
2009 -- Astronaut and former United States Senator John Glenn is presented the
2008 Thomas D. White Award. The award,
established in 1962, is presented annually to a U.S. citizen who has
contributed significantly to the national defense of the United States.
2012 -- The Academy Cyber Competition Team places second in theNational
Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.
1966 -- Captain Robert Blake, Class of '59, becomes the first graduate to shoot
down an enemy aircraft in aerial combat.
He destroyed a MiG-17 while flying an F-4C north of Hanoi.
1979 -- Former President Gerald R. Ford begins a four-day visit to the Academy,
during which he teaches political science classes and addresses the entire
Cadet Wing in the Field House as part of the Academy's 25-year commemorative
activities. The topic of his address was
"The Role of the Military Officer in our Government System."
1959 -- The Academy receives academic accreditation from the North Central
Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, becoming the only school ever
accredited before graduating even one class.
1986 -- The Academy Department of History and the Rocky Mountain Regional World
History Association co-sponsor a two- day teaching conference on "Africa in
1976 -- CMSgt Joseph McBrearty becomes the Academy's third Cadet Wing Sergeant
1995 -- Secretary of the Air Force
Sheila Widnall and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Ron Fogleman,
Class of '63, announce that the resistance and escape components of the former
SERE program were being discontinued, effective immediately.
2006 -- Music group Mannheim Steamroller
performs at Arnold Hall.
The Department of English hosts science fiction writer Ray Bradbury,
author of such works as "The Martian Chronicles," "The Illustrated Man,"
"Fahrenheit 451" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
2005 -- Second Lieutenant Delavane Diaz, Class of '04, receives the 2004 Cadet
of the Year award at a Pentagon ceremony.
The Air Force-level award recognizes the most outstanding cadet in an
Air Force commissioning program.
1945 -- Lieutenant Colonel Albert Patton Clark, who would serve as the
Academy's Superintendent from 1970 to 1974, is liberated from the prisoner of
war camp at Mooseburg in Bavaria, Germany.
He had been shot down over France while flying a Spitfire and was
imprisoned by the Germans in StalagLuft III.
During his thirty-three months of imprisonment, he directed security
activities in preparation for The Great Escape, an operation immortalized in
the1963 movie starring Steve McQueen.
1955 -- The Superintendent, Lieutenant General Hubert Harmon, approves the proposed
Academy curriculum comprised of 80 semesters hours in Social Sciences/Humanities,
63 2/3 in Sciences, and 9 5/6 in physical training/ navigation/military
1979 -- The Silver Anniversary Dinner and Ball takes place. Entertainer Arthur Godfrey emceed the
Mitchell Hall dinner.
1985 -- Fred Gregory, Class of '64, becomes the first African-American to pilot
the space shuttle, as a member of the Challenger crewon mission STS-51B.
1990 -- The Holocaust Torah Scroll is presented to the Air Force Academy Jewish
Cadet Chapel for display as a memorial to the six million people who were
murdered by the Nazis and as a thank you to the United States for our role in
helping the Polish people escape the Nazis.
1975 -- The city of Saigon falls, marking the beginning of the end of the
Vietnam War, a conflict that took the lives of 141 Academy graduates.
2004 -- The Colonel James Jabara statue is dedicated. The statue was sculpted by John Doubleday and
is displayed near Arnold Hall.
2008 -- Officials with the Air Force Academy, developer Forest City-Hunt, and
Colorado Springs cut the ribbon on several extensively renovated homes located
in the Douglass Valley neighborhood.