United States Air Force Academy
This past weekend Snowcatcher and I visited one of my numerous favorite places – the Air Force Academy. Years ago, I lived in Colorado Springs and I would ride out to, and throughout, the Academy grounds without a second thought. I had a nice little 40-mile route mapped out. Fast forward 19 years and it's still a joy to visit.
However, modern times warrant MPs in fatigues, one with an M-16 at fingertip, to check IDs for entry onto the Academy grounds. I was awash with pride, sadness and grateful emotions all whipped together. Due to heightened security levels, cyclists can ride only in and out on the road to the Visitor Center, unless they hold DoD clearance. Nonetheless, although abbreviated, the visit is fun; the Cadet Chapel, which remains open to visitors, is worth a visit even without a bicycle. Following are some photos. Enjoy!
The Academy is nestled up against the foothills of Colorado's Front Range.
There are numerous static airplanes suspended about. Above is the frontal view of the opening pic of a B-52.
There are a handful of athletic fields with the iconic Cadet Chapel directing your view to the upper right.
Rolling terrain at elevations between 6,700 and 7,200 feet make for good bicycle riding.
The central campus plaza
The retired skeleton, or possibly a full-scale model, of my favorite fighter jet stands at ease – an F-15 Eagle.
A live prairie falcon was catching a breath of air on the day we visited. When the cadet falconer removed the hood for us, the falcon excitedly squawked, came alive, and was 100 percent tuned into the surrounding environment. Moreover, it offered no resistance when the hood was replaced. Snowcatcher got some shots of the falcon un-hooded. Falconry is an extracurricular activity at the Academy. There usually are 12 cadet falconers, with several new freshmen coming aboard each year to replace graduates, and the school mascot is a falcon. In the wild, prairie falcons live 10 to 12 years; in captivity they live much longer. This handsome devil has 19 years under its feathers. Falcons hear and smell similar to humans. However, their eyesight is magnified 10 times to ours.