Thursday was the day that the new basic cadets of the
class of 2013 showed up for their first day at the United States Air
Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The academy attracts more than
a million visitors a year, many of whom come to see its famous chapel.
On Thursday, more than 1,300 new basic cadets arrived. They spent the
day saying good-bye to their parents, getting fitted for new boots,
getting their hair cut, and getting yelled at for the smallest things.
During in-processing, as the basic cadets' initiation is called, it's best to blend in and not have any attention drawn to you.
This basic cadet was said to have boasted that he would be the first man on Mars and that the Air Force Academy would be just a stepping stone to that achievement. The cadre of returning cadets used that against him, ganging up on him and screaming at him for several minutes.
The basic cadets' official Air Force experience began when they climbed these stairs to fill out paperwork. They had to say good-bye to their parents first, and after going up the stairs, no one except Air Force personnel could speak to them.
All the male basic cadets had to have their heads shaved. Many arrived at the Academy with their hair already short, but not everyone. This new arrival sat down for his shaving, looking grim and serious.
This basic cadet is sure to be remembered for a long time by everyone who was on hand at the academy for the in-processing of the class of 2013. He arrived carrying a giant box, which he would then have to carry with him all day long, as basic cadets have to take their belongings with them everywhere they go on their first day.
One of the senior cadets screamed at him upon his arrival, yelling as he asked, "What's in there, your Xbox and your TV?"
One after another, groups of basic cadets arrived, were told how they were to stand when at attention and what their seven basic responses to questions are, yelled at and then told to hurry up and head up this ramp for further processing.
The returning cadets looked for any reason to single a basic cadet out in order to scream at them. This woman got off the bus and ended up dragging her boots on the ground as she walked. She was quickly pulled aside and yelled at.
Among the many things the new basic cadets had to learn was how to stand. They were led onto a giant mat covered in pre-printed footprints. The idea is that they were to keep their feet at 22.5 degree angles off of their head, meaning that their feet were at a 45 degree angle.
"Congratulations, you're now in the Air Force." Those were the words each new basic cadet heard after standing and taking an oath, similar to the oath new public officials take, agreeing to uphold the Constitution and much more.
The basic cadets were also given new boots, and new athletic shoes. Here, three of the new arrivals put on their boots for the first time. They were instructed, as with almost every other aspect of their new Air Force experience on how exactly to tie their bootlaces.
All 1,300-plus new basic cadets had to go through a series of steps during their first day at the Air Force Academy. Among them was getting all the different parts of the new wardrobe. But something was slowing the processing, and in the area where returning cadets were waiting to hand over all the various pieces of clothing--underwear, swimsuits, bathrobes and so on--a betting pool sprung up on when the first new cadet would show up.
They had to keep revising their predictions, as the cadets didn't arrive until much later than expected.
The new basic cadets sat down for their first meal at the academy. They were watched with eagle eyes by returning cadets, who instructed them on how to sit, where to look (down) and what to say (nothing).