United States Air Force Academy

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Prepare for Take Off


image of Cadets celebrating at the end of the graduation ceremony


Graduation Week is traditionally comprised of many activities and events across the U.S. Air Force Academy. Cadets and their guests take part in receptions, awards ceremonies, baccalaureate services, concerts, parades, air demonstrations, and commissioning ceremonies. The week culminates at Falcon Stadium with the iconic graduation ceremony. Commencement speakers often include the President of the United States, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Air Force and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This year we are proud to have Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin III as our guest speaker. At the close of the ceremony, cadets are dismissed and ceremoniously toss their caps into the air. Cheers and celebration are quickly silenced by the roar of the legendary Thunderbirds flying overhead to honor the graduating class.


Important Graduation Week Information

  • Commissioning Ceremony Times and Locations

    Primary venues will be used for commissioning ceremonies unless weather or other circumstances require back-up locations.

    Venue 12:30-2:15 pm 3:00-4:45 pm 5:30-7:15 pm 8:00-9:45 pm
    B-52 CS 32 CS 08 CS 13 CS 19
    Thunderbird Overlook CS 01
    Honor Court CS 03 CS 05 CS 23
    Plaza of Heroes CS 22 CS 26 CS 36
    Air Gardens CS 14 CS 37 CS 25
    Calton House CS 07 CS 39 CS 24
    Otis House CS 11 CS 16 CS 20
    Dean’s House CS 12 CS 09
    McDermott Library CS 17
    Falcon Club Ballroom CS 31 CS 30
    Doolittle Hall CS 04 CS 29 CS 27
    Arnold Hall Ballroom CS 21 CS 28
    Polaris CS 18 CS 15 CS 40 CS 38
    Arnold Hall Theater CS 10 CS 02
    Holaday Athletic Center CS 35
    Davis Airfield CS 33 CS 06 CS 34
  • Commissioning Ceremony Map

    image of a map describing Commissioning Ceremony locations.

    North Gate South Gate
      1. B-52   6. Carlton House
      2. Arnold Hall, Polaris Hall, Honor Court   7. Heritage House
      3. Air Gardens   8. Otis House
      4. Holaday Athletic Center   9. Thunderbird Overlook
      5. Plaza of Heroes, Doolittle Halll, Falcon Club   10. Ground Training Facilty
  • Awards Shuttle Map

    image of a map describing shuttle routes for awards ceremonies.

    Awards Shuttle: Enter via North Gate; Follow traffic managers to park at east side of the Field House; Shuttles provided from Field House to Fairchild Hall.

  • Parade Shuttle Map

    image of a map describing routes to Stillman Parade Field.

    Parade Shuttle: Enter via North Gate; Follow traffic managers to parking; Shuttle provided from parking to the Parade Field.

  • Allowed/Prohibited Items at Parade Field and Falcon Stadium

    All persons and their personal belongings are subject to an inspection, which may result in a search. The Academy is not responsible for items left at the gates or in the trash receptacles. Storage of prohibited items is not available and security personnel will ask visitors to store the item in their vehicle. On the day of graduation, entry into the stadium is not permitted once the ceremony begins, and guests may not depart the stadium until the Air Force Thunderbirds complete their aerial demonstration. Tailgate parties are not allowed on base.

    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.
    • Hand bags larger than 12 by 12 by 12 inches.
    • Backpacks, including bota bags, wine-skins and camelbaks.
    • 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 arm rests.

  • Graduation Ceremony Parking Map

    image of a map describing routes to Falcon Stadium and the Graduation Ceremony.

    Graduation Ceremony: Arrive early; Enter either from the North Gate (Exit 156) or South Gate (Exit 150); Follow instructions from parking attendants.

  • Falcon Stadium Map

    image of a map describing routes to Falcon Stadium and the Graduation Ceremony.

  • Security Procedures for Grad Week

    BASE ENTRY: Throughout Grad Week, guests 18 years of age or older may enter the base via the North Gate or South Gate by showing a valid driver’s license or a military ID. Minors under the age of 18 will not be required to present a valid form of ID. Standard base visitor hours are from 5:30 am to 10:00 pm daily. However, during Grad Week, the North Gate and South Gate will be open to allow guests to enter the base for early or late events. North Gate times are as follows: 22 May through 28 May: 5:00 am-10:00 pm. All vehicles entering the base are subject to inspection/search by security personnel and you may be asked to show proof of insurance, a valid vehicle registration and a rental car agreement. Guests should refrain from bringing large bags, coolers, backpacks, or other items that will require additional scrutiny or searches from security personnel. The North Gate and South Gate will be open for guests on graduation day for travel to the stadium.

    PARKING: Parking for events on Monday of Graduation Week is in the Cadet Field House, Parade Field, and Cadet Parking Lots. Shuttle buses will run from these parking areas to locations throughout the Cadet Area. All parking for the Graduation Ceremony on Wednesday is at Falcon Stadium.

    CADET AREA ACCESS: Guests must be escorted by a cadet or USAFA staff with a Cadet Area Badge while in the Cadet Area. Guests should not bring large bags or backpacks into the Cadet Area; bags will be searched at the bus stops and at the parade, potentially delaying your arrival at your destination.

    EVENTS IN SECURE AREAS OF THE BASE: For Graduation Week events taking place outside of the immediate Cadet Area or after visitor hours, all non-DOD guests must be escorted through entry control points by a DOD ID card holder. These events include any held at The Carlton House (e.g., Commissioning Ceremonies). We recommend cadets meet their non-DOD guests either off base or at the Field House in order to carpool and/or caravan to their destination. DOD ID cardholders, including civilian, military, cadets, and base contractors, can vouch for up to 10 non-DOD affiliated people in the car which they are traveling. Plan to arrive early for Grad Week activities in order to give yourself sufficient time to get through security to your event location.

    HANDICAPPED: USAFA does not issue handicapped or special parking passes, so please bring your own handicapped placard in order to access the Cadet Area handicapped lot (immediately north of Stillman Parade Field) and handicapped parking at the stadium on Graduation day. Handicapped shuttles will operate throughout the Cadet Area during Grad Week.

    GENERAL BASE DRIVING INFO: Please make sure to follow all posted speed limits when driving on the base. Note that seatbelts must be worn by all vehicle occupants at all times when driving on the Academy. Drivers may not use handheld cellular phones while the vehicle is in motion. If you need to make or take a call, please use a hands-free device or pull to the side of the road. Also, be aware that radar detectors are not permitted on base. Finally, keep in mind that wildlife such as deer, elk and wild turkeys can be a hazard while driving on the Academy. Please be alert for them and drive carefully. Remember, they have the right-of-way!

    If Force Protection Conditions change due to world events or events closer to home, some scheduled events may change or require additional security precautions for the safety of all our guests. Any event changes will be widely publicized in local media, on our Graduation Website and throughout the base.

    EMERGENCIES: If you have a medical, fire or police emergency, please call 911 immediately. There are several major medical facilities in Colorado Springs to handle medical situations: Memorial Hospital Central, (719) 365-5000, Memorial Hospital North, (719) 364-5000, Penrose-St. Francis, (719) 776-5000, and St. Francis Medical Center, (719) 571-1000. On base, you may contact USAFA Security Forces at (719) 333-2000 or 333-4100.

  • Graduation Week Dress Code for Family & Guests
    Superintendent’s Reception for Grads & Families Women: Slacks, Skirt or Dress
    Men: Business Suit or Coat and Tie
    Military: Service Dress with Flight Cap
    94th FTS Soaring G-Wings Ceremony Women: Slacks, Skirt, or Dress
    Men: Business Suit or Coat and Tie
    Military: Service Dress w/flight cap
    Bluebards Musical Women: Casual Wear
    Men: Casual Wear
    Baccalaureate Services Women: Business Casual
    Men: Business Casual
    Military: Service Dress w/flight cap
    Commandant’s Fiancé(e)s Reception Women: Business Casual–no jeans
    Men: Business Casual–no jeans
    Graduation Tapping Ceremony
    Graduation Awards & Reception
    Academic Department Awards & Reception
    Athletic Department Awards & Reception
    Wings of Blue Awards & “Blue Suit” Ceremony
    Academy Scholars Program Ceremony
    Schulte Award Ceremony & Reception
    Women: Business Casual
    Men: Business Casual
    Military: Service Dress w/flight cap
    Graduation Concert Women: Business Casual
    Men: Business Casual
    Military: Business Casual
    Graduation Parade Women: Business Casual/Casual
    Men: Business Casual/Casual
    Military: Service Dress w/flight cap
    Reviewing Stand: Service Dress w/ wheel cap
    Commissioning Ceremonies Women: Formal/Semi-Formal Gown or Dress (short or long)
    Men: Evening Attire: Black Tie or Suit and Tie
    Military: Mess Dress
    Graduation Reception – Mitchell Hall Women: Business Casual / Casual Attire
    Men: Business Casual / Casual Attire
    Military: Parade/Service Dress
    Graduation Ceremony Women: Business Casual /Casual
    Men: Business Casual/Casual
    Military in Stands: Service Dress w/ Flight Cap
    Military On Stage and Stadium Floor: Service Dress w/wheel cap
Welcome Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Families and Friends of the Class of 2022

Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark is honored to welcome the families and friends of the Class of 2022 to Falcon Stadium to celebrate the 64th graduating class of the United States Air Force Academy. Guests of graduating cadets can click here to read his welcome letter, which includes important information on the Graduation Parade, graduation ceremony tickets, and the Superintendent’s graduate reception at the Carlton House.

Graduation Event Highlights

Saturday, 21 May, 2022
Commandant’s Future Spouses Reception

Curious about what married life is like in the military? The Future Spouses Reception is a casual event at the Commandant of Cadet’s house to mingle with other military couples to learn first-hand! The Commandant’s Future Spouses Reception provides graduates the opportunity to share their Air Force Academy experience with their future military or civilian spouses while preparing them for service in the U.S. Air and Space Forces. Active Duty personnel representing various spousal circumstances (e.g., military-civilian, join spouse, same sex couples, etc.) will provide their perspective and lessons learned over their career for making their union and careers successful. The event naturally provides mentorship and introduces resources such as Key Spouses groups, Heartlink, Chaplains, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Military & Family Life Consultants, etc.

Sunday, 22 May, 2022
Superintendent’s Graduation Reception

Reception honoring graduating cadets and their families hosted by the Superintendent and his spouse at the Carlton House, the Superintendent’s residence. Families will have an opportunity to get a picture and interact with Academy Senior Leaders, and enjoy light refreshments.
(Squadrons 1-10: 2:00-3:00 pm, Squadrons 11-20: 3:00-4:00 pm, Squadrons 21-30: 4:30-5:30 pm, Squadrons 31-40: 5:30-6:30 pm)

Sunday, May 22, 2022 and Monday, May 23, 2022
Bluebards Production of "All Shook Up"

The Bluebards Cadet Theatre Troupe takes the stage in the Arnold Hall Auditorium with a presentation of “All Shook Up.” The play is inspired by and features the songs of Elvis Presley. Showtime at 7:00 pm.
(no tickets required, open to all guests, a show flyer is available here.)

Monday, May 23, 2022
Tapping Ceremony

The Tapping Ceremony is a prestigious ceremony recognizing specific top performers in the graduating class. A portion of the ceremony commemorates award recipients by attaching their engraved name plate to the larger award plaque in the Ballroom (the “tapping”). The Superintendent, Commandant, donors and other distinguished visitors present awards to the recipients.
(by invitation to honored cadets and their guests)

Monday, May 23, 2022
Graduation Awards Ceremony

The largest Academy awards ceremony honoring the top cadets in the graduating class for their military, academic, and athletic performance. Award winners will receive the beautiful Eagle and Fledglings sculpture and meet the generous sponsors who made these awards possible. Award winners and their guests are invited to attend a reception immediately following the ceremony.
(presentation of organizational and individual awards)

Monday, May 23, 2022
Thunderbird Pilot Graduate Meet-and-Greet

There will be a Thunderbird pilot and non-pilot graduate meet-and-greet for all cadets (not just those headed for UPT) and their family members from 4:00-5:30 pm at Hap’s Place in Arnold Hall.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Aerial and Honor Guard Demonstrations

Arriving early to the Graduation Parade not only guarantees you a good seat, but also gains you exclusive access to some amazing demonstrations! Come watch our glider program soar onto the parade field, our “Wings of Blue” parachute team freefall with colored smoke and flags, and our Honor Guard and Saber Drill Team demonstrate their exceptional precision maneuvers. It is fun-filled entertainment for the whole family!
(event is restricted to six guests per graduate; wristband required)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Graduation Parade

The Graduation Parade is a Cadet Wing parade that honors the graduating class and symbolizes the assumption of command by the second class. During the parade, the graduating class marches away from the Cadet Wing as they pass their command to the rising Firsties. Come take in our Cadet Wing’s drill and ceremony skills as they create a visual and symbolic demonstration of our graduating class joining the long blue line.
(event is restricted to six guests per graduate, wristband required)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Graduation Reception

Following the graduation parade, you and your group will likely need to grab a bite to eat while being guided by your graduate through the cadet area or before joining a commissioning ceremony. Have you been curious about the cuisine and dining hall in which your graduate has been fed the past four years? To meet both needs, Mitchell Hall is providing a reception for grads and families with a menu of heavy hor d’oeuvres at a cost of $15.00 per person and free for cadets.
(tickets must be purchased in advance and are available here)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Commissioning Ceremonies

The Commissioning Ceremony is a highly meaningful and historic ceremony for graduates, families and friends. Although largely symbolic (the formal commissioning takes place at the Graduation Ceremony), it is both formal and personal. Due to the number of highly sought out venues, commissioning ceremonies are taking place during four waves of time after the Graduation Parade. Be sure to check with your graduate in which wave their ceremony will take place!
(a schedule with times, squadrons, and locations is available below)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Pre-Graduation Performances

Gates at Falcon Stadium open at 7:00 am. Come out early to watch performances by some of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s elite clubs. Performance times are as follows: Honor Guard begins at 7:45 am; The Cadet Chorale begins at 8:00 am; The Sabre Drill Team begins at 8:20 am; followed by the a cappella group, “In The Stairwell,” at 8:25 am.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Graduation Ceremony

The Graduation Ceremony is held to honor each graduating cadet’s successful completion of the Academy’s program. It embodies both the academic ceremony of granting the Bachelor of Science degree as well as the awarding of a commission in the U.S. Air Force or Space Force. In the event of severe inclement weather, the ceremony may be delayed or moved to the Cadet Field House. This announcement will be made the morning of and shared across the Cadet Wing.
(Tickets required, stadium gates open at 7:00 am, entry will not be allowed once the ceremony begins at 9:30 am)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Thunderbirds Performance

Following the Graduation Ceremony (outdoor only), join us for a magnificent flyover by the Air Force’s aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds! Be prepared to witness airpower up close and through impressive precision maneuvers. The USAF Thunderbirds demonstration is conducted in honor of the Academy’s graduating class. (all personnel must remain in the stadium until the aerial demonstration is completed, announcements will be made in the stadium and gates will open following the last pass of the Thunderbirds)

COVID Update

Access requirements are in accordance with DoD policy and COVID conditions in the local area. At this time due to current conditions, there are no requirements for proof of vaccination, negative tests, or mask wear for indoor events. Guests are asked to have masks available in the event they become required. Updates will be posted here as we get closer to Graduation.

Contact Us

Public Affairs
Phone: (719) 333-7731

Parents’ Liaison
Phone: (719) 333-3828

Media Relations
Phone: (719) 333-7731