Updated: May 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm
Tickets to the Air Force Academy's May 28 graduation will be handed out at three locations starting Friday.
The tickets are free, and they may go fast.
The graduation will he headlined by Vice President Joe Biden, who will address the school's 1,000 seniors. Past graduation speakers, including Biden himself, have used the stage to discuss a mix of national security and election-year politics, so don't be surprised if he throws some punches for his fellow Democrats and talks about the changing national security picture amid a hard budget fight in Congress and a battle to retain control of the Senate this fall.
But the biggest draw may come after Biden sits down and all the graduates toss their hats skyward in celebration. Grounded in 2013 by budget woes, the Air Force Thunderbirds will roar overhead in the F-16 fighters to mark their return to the air show circuit and salute the class of 2014.
Tickets will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 430. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, tickets can be picked up at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce at 300 Highway 105 in Monument.
The academy will also hand out tickets at its ticket office in the Cadet Field House from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
Those attending the graduation should expect airport-like security and be prepared for a long day in the sun. The Secret Service is working with the Air Force to secure Falcon Stadium for the vice president's visit.
"No boxes, alcohol, weapons, firecrackers, backpacks, large handbags, coolers, thermoses, beverage containers of any sort or similar items will be allowed in the stadium," the academy warned in a news release.
Gates at Falcon Stadium will open at 7 a.m. for the event and close at 9:30 a.m. If you're inside, you'll be there until the rites conclude at about 1 p.m. with the end of the Thunderbirds' flyover."To ensure compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, no one will be allowed in parked cars or driving or walking within the performance area,." the academy said.
The graduation will tangle traffic on Interstate 25 and other roads around the academy. And the Thurderbirds, which will twist and turn over the campus after they flash by for the hat toss, will have plenty of drivers pulling off on the side of the road, craning their necks for a look.
Another tip: Keep an eye on the weather on graduation day.
The academy has celebrated graduations outdoors since its second class held its commencement in 1960. But the school always has a plan at the ready to move indoors if thunderstorms hit. If the event is moved inside Clune Arena, the crowd will be limited to family members of the class, and thousands of others will be told to head home.