Into the Future: 2000 – Today
While Academy cadets have always studied tools effective against terror, the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon changed the world and the Academy forever. The Academy lost two graduates when the Pentagon was hit, and since the resulting military campaigns began, the Academy has lost several graduates while many others have sustained combat injuries.
In 2006, the Academy began a $1 billion multi-year construction plan to update several areas of its 50-year-old infrastructure. The “Fix USAFA” initiative brings advances from the last 50 years into the facilities. Energy efficiency and sustainability are the foundation of the renovations. The 2008 Academy Energy Strategic Plan details a vision to improve our stewardship of fiscal and natural resources, by becoming a leader in the world of renewable energy. The vision is to be a “Net-Zero” electricity installation by 2015 and a carbon-neutral installation by 2025.
In 2009, one Academy graduate became a nationwide hero when he safely landed a US Airways flight in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people on board. The aircraft had lost power in both engines due to bird strikes. The pilot, Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger III, is a 1973 grad.
Some less familiar aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory are the MQ-9 Reaper, RQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk. They aren’t typical cargo aircraft or fighter jets, but are remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). Due to increased RPA use, the Academy brought RPAs into the airmanship curriculum graduating the first 24 cadets in February 2010.
As our world changes, the Academy continues a track record of innovation. The school remains the leader in developing air, space and, most recently, cyberspace officers for the number one Air Force in the world.
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