On Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, the Academy graduated Class of 2013. Although Federal budget cuts meant that the Thunderbirds would not be there, Teresa and I wanted to see our first Graduation, and see the WWII aircraft fly over. We sat in the Faculty/Staff area of the Falcon Stadium.

First the professors and senior staff marched in.

The Academy's stated mission 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 was pretty crowded, and at first it was sunny, then it got a bit cold as the clouds rolled in.

The program at the Academy is guided by the Air Force's core values of "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do" and based on four "pillars of excellence": military training, academics, athletics and character development.

Soon the cadets started to march out, all in step...

In addition to a rigorous military training regimen, cadets also take a broad academic course load with an extensive core curriculum in engineering, humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, military studies and physical education. All cadets participate in either intercollegiate or intramural athletics, and a thorough character development and leadership curriculum provides cadets a basis for future officership.

It was actually very impressive, all the sharp uniforms, all the perfect marching...

Congress passed legislation in 1954 to begin the construction of the Air Force Academy, and President Eisenhower signed it into law on 1 April of that year. The legislation established an advisory commission to determine the site of the new school. Among the panel members were Charles Lindbergh, General Carl Spaatz, and Lieutenant General Hubert R. Harmon, who later became the Academy's first superintendent.

They all perfectly filed in, and approached their seats...

The original 582 sites considered were winnowed to three: Alton, Illinois; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; and the ultimate site at Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Secretary of the Air Force, Harold E. Talbott, announced the winning site on 24 June 1954. Meanwhile, Air Training Command (ATC) began developing a detailed curriculum for the Academy program

About 1,200 cadets were graduating with their Bachelor's of Science degrees.

Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott sought out legendary Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille for help. DeMille's designs, especially his design of the cadet parade uniform, won praise from Air Force and Academy leadership, were ultimately adopted, and are still worn by cadets today.

Opening words are given, the cadets can then sit, and listen to about a half hour of speeches and such by dignitaries. This year's commencement speech was done by the Secretary of the Air Force.

At the end, the Secretary of the Air Force told the cadets that their class was "Dismissed"....which meant it was now time for the famous "Hat Toss".

The dress Caps flew into the air, which were collected by children...who could keep the caps...

At the same time of the "Hat Toss", 2 B-25s, a TBM, Wildcat, Corsair, P-47 and 3 Mustangs flew over head in formation.
My camera is not that good at distance shots...but here is one of the B-25's flying over head on a second pass.

On June 8th, we decided to drive up behind the Academy into Pike National Forrest, to check out the Military Resort "Farish" and also to look at the Rampart Resevoir. The resevioir area had been closed since last years Waldo Canyon Fire which scorched 18,000 acres, and destroyed over 300 homes. Below is a picture of one of the three small lakes in the Farish Resort. .
Although it's located on the top of the mountains behind our house, it took about an hour to drive here. As the bird flies, probably 8 miles or so...as the car drives, about 50. There are alot of cabins and camping spots.
Beautiful views of Pikes Peak as well. This meadow is called the "Wedding Meadow"...and I can see why it would be cool to be married at thsi location.
A shot of my MDX and Pikes Peak.
A picture of yours truly....
Teresa and our pup Lilly.
Me and Lilly on an outcropping of granite.
Picture of Teresa and Lilly on an outcropping. These mountains around here are covered with gold mines, coal mines and precious stone quaries. The resort is 650 acres of mountains, woods and trails.
Another shot of Pikes Peak, pine trees and aspen trees. Lots of hiking trails. The land was donated to the USAF Academy by the Farish family after their son was killed in action during the Korean War.
Looking down onto one of the lakes, fishing and camping going on down below.
A good shot of Lilly and Pikes Peak.
We then drove about 15 minutes more down the road to Rampart Resevoir. The resevoir was built in the 1960's on top of a granite plateau approximately 9,000 feet above sea level. It hold 13 billion gallons of water.
In 1967, the city of Colorado Springs voted that the planned reservoir would eventually be opened for public recreation after construction of the necessary facilities. In 1969, the reservoir's dam was built, stretching 3,400 feet long and 230 feet high. Five years after its completion, the dam was completely filled and opened to the public as a recreation area. The reservoir has been stocked with fish by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, which continues to do so today.
Due to the fire the year before, only a small area was approachable by car. To get out onto the dam itself, you had to walk. The boat ramp on the other side is closed. Here is a shot looking down the front of the dam. Below the notch in the hills in the middle, 2,000 feet down is our house.
Teresa looking down the front of the dam...towards our house.
Looking back the other way to Pikes Peak.
Looking west from the far side of the dam, not too far from the boat launch area. Just walking along the dam, we saw several schools of trout.
I climbed up some rocks to take this photo of Teresa, Lilly and Pikes Peak in the background.
Driving around the lake area and thru camp areas, there were many areas of scorched forres from teh 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire.
A few days later on June 12th, while walking down the corridor where I work, I spotted this fire. I took a few shots with my iPhone. At first I thought this would be a small blaze, but it lasted almost a week, and at the end burned more acreage and destroyed more homes than the Waldo Canyon Fire a year before.
This fire would be called the "Black Forrest Fire", named after the stretch of forrest trees you can see in the picture.
Another shot, the next day....at the end it killed two people, destroyed 509 homes and burnt over 14,000 acres.
Later that day...the winds still moving the fire north. These shots are taken from the Academy still, just down from my office.
After three days, resources were finally able to call in tankers and helicopters to start putting retardant on the fire.
By Friday the fire was mostly out, partly because it rain out of forest to burn, and had hit open grassy plains, which were much easier to build fire breaks into.