US Air Force Academy 2022 graduation week

COLORADO SPRINGS — Here’s what to expect as the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs celebrates the class of 2022. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin III, will be the commencement speaker for the US Air Force Academy Class of 2022 Graduation Ceremony on Wednesday.

First, expect heavy traffic in any areas near the US Air Force Academy on the north side of town due to all the visitors in town, plus people looking for a view of the Thunderbirds’ practice and performance.

Monday, May 23

  • 11:15 am – US Air Force Thunderbirds arrive, conduct survey flight
  • 12:00 pm-4:00 pm – Planetarium Open House – Jon’s recent story – US Air Force Academy Planetarium reopens to the public
  • 4:00 pm-5:30 pm – Thunderbird pilot and non-pilot graduate meet and greet (for cadets and families)

Tuesday, May 24

  • 7:30 am-9:00 am – Cadet Aerial and Cadet Honor Guard Demonstrations
  • TBD – US Olympic gold medalist speed skater Erin Jackson will fly with the Thunderbirds, flight out of Peterson AFB
  • TBD – Thunderbirds practice flight (see below for notes on road closures)
  • 2:00 pm-4:00 pm – Planetarium Open House – Jon’s recent story – US Air Force Academy Planetarium reopens to the public
  • 12:30 pm-9:30 pm – Commissioning Ceremonies (limited guests)

Wednesday, May 25 – USAFA Graduation Ceremony Schedule:

  • 7:00 am: Gates at Falcon Stadium Open
  • 7:45 am – 8:25 am: Performances by some of the US Air Force Academy’s elite clubs.
    • Honor Guard begins at 7:45 am
    • The Cadet Chorale begins at 8:00 am
    • The Saber Drill Team begins at 8:20 am
    • The a cappella group, “In The Stairwell,” at 8:25 am
  • 9:30 am: Ceremony begins, tickets will be required. Entry will not be allowed once the ceremony begins.
  • Following the Graduation Ceremony, there will be a flyover by the Air Force’s aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds! (see below for notes on road closures)

Learn more about the events at the US Air Force Academy website.

Prohibited Items and Dress Code:

For the graduation ceremony, both men and women are expected to wear business casual or casual dress. Members of the military who are at the stands are expected to dress in their Service Dress with their flight cap.

Items allowed at Stillman Parade Field and Falcon Stadium

  • Food is allowed, but must be displayed in a transparent 1-gallon Ziploc bag. Each ticket-holder may have only one 1-gallon Ziploc.
  • Sunscreen is permitted but restricted to a 6-ounce or-less tube. Bottles and aerosol spray are not allowed into the stadium.
  • Factory-sealed transparent soft plastic water bottles are restricted to 24 ounces in size. Water is the only beverage permitted to be carried into the parade field or stadium. Exceptions may be made for visitors with medical conditions and for infants.
  • Infant diaper bags and carrier packs are permitted when an infant is present.

Prohibited Items

  • Illegal substances, including Marijuana, which is illegal on federal property.
  • Firearms, knives, box cutters, scissors, or any weapon.
  • Alcohol, glass containers, bottles, cans, aerosol sprays, hard-sided (or Nalgene) plastic bottles.
  • Handbags larger than 12 by 12 by 12 inches.
  • Backpacks, including bota bags, wine skins and camelbacks.
  • Laser pointers, fireworks, or any item deemed unsafe by security personnel.
  • Unapproved banners or signs larger than 18 by 24 inches.
  • Pets. Americans with Disabilities Act compliant service animals are allowed.
  • Sticks, bats, poles, umbrellas, footballs, Frisbees, or inflatable balls.
  • Any artificial noisemaker.
  • Baby seats or large strollers. Collapsible strollers are allowed.
  • Any item that cannot be readily inspected.
  • Any type of smoking or tobacco, including E-Cigarettes.
  • Seatbacks wider than 19 inches. No armrests.

Thunderbird Performance:

The US Air Force Academy has invited 2022 Olympic gold medal-winning speed-skater, Erin Jackson, to fly with the US Air Force Thunderbirds on May 24 over Colorado Springs. Jackson is the first black woman in history to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the sport of speed-skating. Inviting a stand-out Olympian for a Thunderbird graduation flight began in 2019 with Mikaela Shiffrin.

On Commencement day the Thunderbirds will perform their famous flyover right as the graduates do the celebratory hat toss. Everyone must remain in the stadium until the aerial demonstration is completed,

Road Closures:

Closures include the Santa Fe Trail and roads under the show area, 11:30 am through 4p.m. Tuesday, May 24, and 10 am through 2:30 pm on Wednesday, May 25. Closures include:

  • Stadium Boulevard – from Pine Drive to North Gate Blvd
  • Community Center Drive – from Stadium Blvd. to E. Douglass Drive
  • Academy Drive – from Stadium Blvd. to Lot 6
  • The Santa Fe Trail from Tri-intersection Bridge to Parade Loop

For public safety, drivers are reminded not to stop along Interstate 25 or any roads on the Academy to watch any of the Thunderbird performances.
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