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. 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.
Graduation Event Highlights
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 residence, the Otis House, to mingle with other military couples to learn first-hand! The Reception provides graduates the opportunity to share their Air Force Academy experience with their future military or civilian spouses while preparing them for life in the U.S. Air and Space Forces. Active Duty personnel representing various spousal circumstances 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, Heart Link, Chaplains, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Military & Family Life Consultants, etc.
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.
Bluebards Production of "Beauty and the Beast"
The Bluebards Cadet Theatre Troupe takes the stage in the Arnold Hall Auditorium with a presentation of “Beauty and the Beast.” The play is inspired by Disney’s animated hit movie. Showtimes are at 7:00 pm.
(no tickets required, open to all guests, a show flyer is available here.)
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. A reception for participants will follow the ceremony.
(by invitation to honored cadets and their guests)
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)
Cadet Aerial Events (CAPEX) and Honor Guard Demonstration
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)
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)
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!
Gates at Falcon Stadium open at 6:30 am. Come out early to watch performances by some of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s elite clubs. Performances include the Honor Guard, Cadet Chorale, Sabre Drill Team, U.S. Air Force Academy Band, the Aerodynamics (all-female a cappella group), and the a cappella group, “In The Stairwell.”
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 6:30 am, entry will not be allowed once the ceremony begins.)
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)