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Cadet 2nd Class Tori Gilster and retired Lt. Col. Richard Trail, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pose for a photo last fall in the 94th Flying Training Squadron offices. Trail was the first cadet to make a successful solo flight in a glider. He and retired Lt. Col. James Leland visited the Academy to meet cadets and staff and discuss the advances made in the wake of the Air Force's only Soaring Program. Leland helped design the Soaring Program in the 1960s.'(Courtesy photo)  Soaring Program pioneers stage fall visit to Academy
 Two soaring program pioneers took a stroll through history with cadets and staff this fall at the 94th Flying Training Squadron, home to the Air Force’s only Soaring Program.Retired Lt. Col James Leland helped create the soaring program and retired Lt. Col. Richard Trail, a 1959 Academy graduate, was the first cadet to take a solo flight in a
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Retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing shares his story of military service and surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor with U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School cadet candidates, Jan. 6, 2016, at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Downing, 103, is the second oldest known survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jason Gutierrez) Service and survival: Pearl Harbor vet visits Prep School Jan 6
Retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing is many things: World War II and Korean War veteran and, at 103, the second oldest known survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Colorado Springs resident shared his story of military service with scores of Air Force Academy Preparatory School students here Jan. 6. “The first Japanese plane I saw was flying straight
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An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and F-16 Fighting Falcon return from an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat mission. Both aircraft provide intelligence, search and reconnaissance gathering features, as well as munitions capability to support ground troops and base defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Shannon Collins) The Contrails: Aircraft, Weapons Systems: MQ-1B Predator
Manufacturer: General AtomicsFunction: Armed Reconnaissance, Airborne Surveillance and Target AcquisitionService Date: 1996Speed: Up to 135 mphCrew (GCS): TwoProduction: 186 Inventory: 126Commentary: An operational Predator system includes four air vehicles, a ground control station (GCS), satellite link, and 55 personnel for 24-hour operations.
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An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady flies a training mission.(U.S. Air Force photo/Rose Reynolds) The Contrails: Aircraft Weapons Systems: U-2S/TR-1 Dragon Lady
Manufacturer: Lockheed MartinFunction: High-AltitudeReconnaissance Service Date: 1955Speed: 410+ mphCrew: 1Production: 35 Inventory: 33Commentary: Although the U-2 was designed initially in the 1950s, current aircraft were produced primarily in the 1980s, when the production line was reopened to produce the TR-1, a significantly larger and more
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An HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter lands during a medivac mission in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

The Contrails: Aircraft, Weapons Systems: HH-60G Pave Hawk
Manufacturer: SikorskyFunction:Special Operations/Personnel Recovery Service Date: 1982  Speed: 184 mphCrew: FourProduction: 105 Inventory: 99Commentary: The HH-60 is a specially modified version of the H-60 Blackhawk used primarily for combat search and rescue, also aeromedical evacuation, casualty evacuation, civil SAR, and other support
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The CV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. Its mission is to conduct long-range infiltration, ex-filtration and resupply missions for special operations forces. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The Contrails: Aircraft, Weapons Systems: CV-22A Osprey
Manufacturer: Bell Helicopter and BoeingFunction: Special Operations Long RangeSpeed: 277 mph (cruising speed)Crew: FourProduction: 50 (planned)Inventory: 17 Commentary: The USAF received its first aircraft in January 2007. IOT&E was completed by summer 2008. The first operational deployment, to Africa, took place in November 2008, and the first
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Air Force One is flown over Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota. (U.S. Air Force photo) The Contrails: Aircraft, Weapons Systems: VC-25 Air Force One
Manufacturer: BoeingFunction: Presidential Air TransportService Date: 1990Speed: 630 mphCrew: 26Production: 2 Inventory: 2Commentary: The VC-25 is most famous for its role as Air Force One, the call sign of any US Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. The two aircraft currently in US service are highly modified versions of
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A KC-10 from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, is flown over the Middle East. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cherie Thurlby) The Contrails: Aircraft, Weapons Systems: KC-10A Extender
Manufacturer: McDonnell DouglasFunction: Aerial Tanker/TransportService Date: 1981Speed: 619 mphCrew: FourProduction: 60 Inventory: 59Commentary: The KC-10 is the militarized variant of the DC-10 commercial aircraft modified for aerial refueling and aeromedical transport. Because it has both types of tanker refueling equipment installed, the KC-10A
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A KC-135R Stratotanker refuels an F-22 fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo) The Contrails: Aircraft, Weapons Systems: KC-135R/T Stratotanker
Manufacturer: BoeingFunction: Aerial Refueling/AirliftModified Functions: Special Mission, ReconnaissanceService Date: 1957Speed: 530 mphCrew: Three (Tanker)Production: 732 Inventory: 204Commentary: Currently the Mainstay of the USAF tanker fleet, the long-serving KC-135 is similar in size and appearance to commercial 707 aircraft but was designed
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Maj. Paul Prosper, an assistant professor in the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Management Department, teaches class Oct. 24, 2016. Prosper keeps a busy schedule balancing his duties as an educator with improving the lives of children and at-risk young adults in Colorado Springs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)   Service before self: Volunteer work links Academy officer to Colo. Springs
A young man from Jamaica beat the odds to become an Air Force officer and an advocate for youth in Colorado Springs.Maj. Paul Prosper didn’t always concern himself with volunteer work. His main concerns growing up were crime, poverty and academic challenges.Prosper is an assistant professor in the Academy’s Management Department. He keeps a busy
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