Traditionally, the Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the Air Force Academy during graduation exercises. This year (2013) is the first graduation on record that has occurred under a Sequester created by a dis-functional Congress and an unyielding Obama Administration. Thus, the ceremonies proceeded as follows:
The President declined the invitation of the Academy Commandant to speak to the graduates and their families on the occasion of their graduation saying he was committed to speak at West Point. However, Vice President Biden was free and he would come to Colorado Springs. And, as to the request for the usual fly-over by the Air Force Thunderbirds that was declined again due to the Sequester.
After consultation with his chain of command the Commandant notified the White House that due to the financial cancelling the Thunderbirds that he was confident that the nation didn’t need the added $1 million + expense to fly Air Force 2, and the added expense of the Secret Service and their entourage required for the Vice President. So just cancel the initial request for a speaker from the White House for the commencement.
So graduation went off as planned sans representation from the White House. It looked like this:
The featured speaker was an Under Secretary of the Air Force, who is a decorated Viet Nam veteran. The Secretary flew back and forth from DC to Peterson AFB In Colorado Springs on routine training flight conducted by the Air Force thus costing the American tax payers nothing.
It seems there were nearly as many Air Force General Officers in attendance as there were family members. Perhaps a dozen or more 4 star generals, three or four times as many 2 and 3 stars an untold number of 1 star generals. And, of course, countless colonels and below.
Most of these officers were themselves alumni of the Air Force Academy and wanted nothing less than a great program for the graduating class. A number of the senior generals took matters into their own hands. And so, after the speeches, the hats were all thrown into the air, and all the family hugs were all made and it became time for the fly-over a roar of engines was detected from the west. Everyone was treated to a fly-over by the Confederate Air Force. Looking up they saw all kinds of vintage aircraft from B-17s B-24s, B-25s, P-38s, P-51s and others all represented by manufactures such Corsairs, Grumman, Lockheed, and Boeing who still provide parts availability for these aircraft, and flown by our heroes from prior conflicts that still see fit to stay active for services such as this. It was a wonderful experience for all who were there.
We all owe a salute to these officers who saw fit not to rob the 2013 graduating class of their day of celebration, and to our heroes who flew the planes for this worthy occasion– and to the many private donors who pitched in and covered the expenses involved in bringing these aircraft in to Colorado Springs from various locations across the country. See the two videos linked below.
For a video of the vintage aircraft preparing for a test run over the Academy, see:
For a video of the actual flyover, see: