The US Air Force Academy is a military installation located immediately north and west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is the newest of the five service academies (the others are the Military (Army), Naval, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies.) The Air Force Academy was established in 1954; construction started in 1955 and was completed at this pristine backdrop to the Rocky Mountains in 1958, just in time to allow the first graduating class to occupy and spend their entire senior year in the new facilities. During this three year construction period, the first three classes were located in temporary accommodations at Lowery AFB in Denver.
The US Air Force Academy is one of the Nation's top rated academic institutions with over 32 different majors offered. Each cadet graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree, and many are offered postgraduate scholarships; in fact, over thirty have been Rhodes Scholars.
The US Air Force Academy is one of the top tourist attractions in Colorado. After the events of 9-11, access to the Academy was restricted, and tourists were prohibited (except for some athletic events); however, those restrictions have recently loosened and tourists once again have access to almost all athletic facilities and many other areas of the campus.
US Air Force Academy facilities, dormitories and cadet chapel are easily visible from Interstate 25 just north of Colorado Springs, especially Falcon Football Stadium; in addition to being the home stadium for all USAF Academy football games, Falcon is well-known as the home of graduation ceremonies, featuring the traditional and simultaneous 'hat toss' and 'flyover' by the Air Force Thunderbirds, and the air show that follows.
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