U.S. Air Force Academy
A football game at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., is a dizzying thrill, and not just because the Falcons Stadium is 6,621 feet above sea level. The Academy’s value of “excellence in all we do” shows on the field as well as above it. Before the Falcons’ triple-option offense and perennial top-10 rushing goes into play, their costumed mascot, The Bird, arrives via parachute, limousine, horseback or some other dramatic fashion. Then booming F-16s, B-2s or other Air Force aircraft fly in low, and the parachute team, Wings of Blue, drops in to deliver the game ball. At halftime, one of the Air Force’s real-life falcon mascots dives and zooms over the crowd’s heads. The Falcons have played in numerous bowl games and have dominated their annual three-way rivalry with Army and Navy, bringing home the 170-pound Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy (often awarded by the U.S. president personally) more times than either of their mighty service academy challengers.
Top Rivals:
U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, Colorado State University
Style Facts:
The iconic lightning bolt makes the Falcons’ helmet one of the most recognized in college football. The blue-and-silver-clad Falcons have donned a white helmet with a royal blue lightning bolt since 1960, but have updated the look on occasion to be more patriotic. During two games in 2010 against Navy and Army, the Air Force team swapped out their traditional helmet with a white and red one with blue stars. On September 11 that same year, the Falcons remembered the day with a special edition of their traditional helmet, featuring stars and stripes inside the lightning bolt.