Four years of hard work and dedication have paid off for the more than 1,000 graduating Air Force Academy cadets, who will walk to stage Wednesday for the 2013 commencement ceremony.
Fifty-eight graduates crossing the stage Wednesday are second generation in their family to graduate from the Air Force Academy; 10 of those cadets follow both of their parents. Forty-eight cadets are the second child from their family to graduate, seven are the third, and one family has the distinction Wednesday of seeing their fourth child graduate from the Academy.
Twenty percent of Wednesday's graduates are women and 23 percent are minorities, according to a release from the Academy.
More than 440 graduates will be moving on to pilot training; the Academy says these cadets will take on a 10-year active duty commitment after they earn their wings. Graduates who will train to become combat system operators, combat rescue officers, special tactics officers, or train in remotely piloted aircrafts will take on six years of active duty after their training. All other cadets will serve five years of active duty.
For those planning on attending Wednesday, the north and south gates and the Falcon Stadium gates will open at 7:30 a.m. The cadets will enter the stadium at 9:40 a.m. Once the ceremony begins, people will not be allowed to leave until the conclusion. Backpacks and large handbags are prohibited, as are food and drinks with the exception of factory-sealed bottles of water. Diaper bags will be allowed if a child is present, but not strollers.
Traffic is expected to be heavy on I-25 around the Academy from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m.
A special treat for those worried about the sequester's impact on the traditional Thunderbird flyover: privately owned aviation teams have volunteered to fly World War II-era planes over the ceremony. The planes were donated by two museums, one local and one from Texas, after the budget cuts grounded the Thunderbirds.
The secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, will give the commencement address.
KKTV will be streaming the ceremony live on kktv.com and on MYKKTV beginning at 9:40 a.m. Tune in to watch this momentous occasion for the 1,024 graduating cadets.