Air Force Academy Heritage     

The Early Years

At the urging of members of the Executive Committee of The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library, Brigadier General George V. Fagan, USAF, Ret. authorized The Friends to republish segments of his history, The Air Force Academy: An Illustrated History (1988). As a member of the original cadre, permanent professor of the Academy’s Department of History, and director of the Academy Libraries, General Fagan gained a unique perspective as he witnessed the evolution of the fledgling Academy from its temporary home at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver to a position of national prominence at its permanent site near Colorado Springs. In addition to his own personal recollections, General Fagan researched extensive series of official documents, oral histories, and photographs, which are housed within the Academy Library. He has produced a comprehensive scholarly history of the genesis of the Academy and the first ten years of its operation. This benchmark history will serve to acquaint cadets, faculty and staff, and members of the public with the rich heritage of the Air Force Academy.


The Struggle to Create an Air Academy

…on December 23, 1907, the Army Signal Corps issued Specification Number 486, which called for ” ... bids on the delivery of an air machine which could fly faster than forty miles an hour, which could remain aloft for at least one hour with a crew of two, and [probably the most onerous requirement of all] that it be able to transport in a four-wheel, mule- driven wagon.”1 By February 1, 1908, forty-one proposals had been received. Nine days later, the Army signed a contract with the Wright brothers to build the first American military aircraft. On August 20, 1908, within the 200 days specified in the contract proposal, Orville Wright delivered the “Flyer” to Fort Myer, Virginia. (Pages 1-3)

The Legislative Maze

President Eisenhower, after signing the Academy Bill on April 1, 1954, congratulates Secretary Talbott. Looking on are Congressman Vinson, General Twining, Congressman Short, Undersecretary of the Air Force Douglas, and General Harmon. (Page 25)

The Academy Finds a Home

The cover of the 1954 brochure prepared by the Colorado Springs committee to bring the Academy to the city. Representatives of 580 proposed locations in forty-five states presented similar materials for consideration by the Site Selection Commission. (page 47)

Settling In at Lowry

Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott and Superintendent Harmon survey the new Academy sign at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver. (Page 59)


Academy Personalities

The first falcon mascots were delivered to Stapleton Field, Denver, October 6, 1955. Captain Harrison H. D. Heiberg Jr. accepts the carefully packaged falcons from an airline stewardess. (Page 80)

Growing Pains

The early model of the Cadet Chapel (pictured in the upper right-hand corner) caused much controversy in Congress and the media. (Page 97)


The Academy Triumphant

Basic cadets learn how to arrange room items properly. Note that the cadet is using a ruler to ensure uniform measurements of issued items. (Page 154)