The Thunderbirds will roar above Falcon Stadium and north Colorado Springs Wednesday afternoon as more than 1,000 Air Force Academy cadets throw their caps skyward to celebrate becoming officers.

The Gazette will have live coverage of the event, with cadets marching into Falcon Stadium at 9:30 a.m. for rites including a speech from Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs.

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The graduation ends as the Air Force Thunderbirds begin their 30-minute air show with F-16 pilots displaying their tight formation flying and aerial displays once graduation ends around 12:30 p.m. Follow reporters @Gazette_Bitton and @JessySnouwaert on Twitter for updates.

Here are some tips for Wednesday's events:

Base access

Both the north and south gates open at 7 a.m. Expect traffic issues and long lines at the stadium and on the interstate prior to and following the event. Only those with tickets will be allowed on base and into Falcon Stadium.


Graduating cadets were given eight tickets, thus filling 8,000 of the roughly 46,000 capacity. Guests must sit in their assigned seats as part of the coronavirus mitigation efforts.


Face masks are optional for anyone fully vaccinated (at least two weeks beyond the final dose). The exception being all individuals must wear a mask if using federal transportation, like riding on a base shuttle bus. Guests not fully vaccinated must wear a mask.

Thunderbirds air show

The Santa Fe Trail and several roads beneath the show will be closed during the performance.

The following roads will be closed from 10 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. May 26:

- Stadium Boulevard, from Tri-intersection Bridge to Parade Loop;

- Community Center Drive, from Stadium Boulevard to E. Douglass Drive;

- Academy Drive, from Stadium Drive to the Falcon Club;

- The Santa Fe Trail from Tri-intersection Bridge to Parade Loop.

Those watching the air show are asked to not park on the interstate.

Find more information about graduation at To learn more about the Thunderbirds, visit

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