The Centennial State has long been home to a number of military bases, educational facilities and other military institutions. A significant portion of the economy of the state is connected to the existence of these institutions, as well as to the military and civilian personnel who serve them. Also, Coloradoans feel proud that their state is hosting the men and women who fight and sacrifice their lives to protect our freedom.
Among the most significant military facilities from Colorado we can mention the United States Air Force Academy. Selected from 582 possible locations, Colorado Springs hosted the Academy on the current premises starting from 1959, although the institution was founded five years earlier. The stated mission of the Academy is “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.” It does so by providing a comprehensive system of education and training, both in military disciplines and academic fields. After four years of courses, graduates receive a Bachelor of Sciences in various academic areas, and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force.
The four pillars which stand at the base of the education of the cadets are military service, academics, athletics and character development. This rigorous program of training and education, the quality of the staff and the overall excellence of the educational system, have made the Air Force Academy one of the best academic institutions in the country. The Academy is usually not ranked along with civilian colleges, but when it is taken into account, it receives top honors.
The Air Force Academy is open to the public, and more than one million visitors enter its premises each year. This figure makes the Academy one of the top tourist attractions in the entire state of Colorado. The suburban placement of the Academy Campus, which spans over a 18,500 acres area, make it readily accessible from nearby Colorado Springs. Visitors can admire the buildings which house the classrooms, dormitories and research facilities, designed in the distinct American Modernist style. Many of them feature beautiful aluminum inlays which are meant to resemble the fuselage of an aircraft. One of the top attractions of the complex is the Cadet Chapel, built in 1962 and designed by the renowned Modernist architect Walter Netsch. The Chapel has a very distinctive shape, with seventeen metal spires which soar towards the sky. The striking geometrical shape of the building drew a lot of controversies in its early years, but today it’s hailed as an architectonical masterpiece.
The Arnold Hall hosts permanent exhibitions of military and aerospace items, as well as an auditorium where various events are held. The Honor Court placed between the Chapel and the Arnold Hall is home to memorials and art work which commemorate the sacrifice of the Air Force members who lost their lives in the service. Spread on the premises of the campus, iconic aircraft such as the F16 and the B52 await visitors who want to learn more about these formidable machines and the men and women who have flown them in defense of the nation.