Cadet Chapel Air Force Academy

Gazette file photo 

After nearly 17 months of being closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Air Force Academy is opening its doors to visitors beginning Monday.

The academy will open its gates to visitors at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 2. In order to get in, visitors will need to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination statuses, which academy officials said was in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense protocol.

They’ll also need to present state issued or defense department identification, or their passport, and may face random vehicle inspections.

The extended closure, officials said, allowed the academy to focus on training new staff even as other military installations in Colorado opened their doors to the public months ago.

“We’re excited to welcome the community back to the United States Air Force Academy,” Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent, said. “I’m proud of our USAFA team for their incredible work to ensure a safe, successful environment for our cadets, faculty and families. Cadets have been back since last fall, and we’ve learned to work in an environment focused on reducing COVID risks.”

Before the pandemic, the academy boasted of a one million tourists per year average, officials said in a statement.

Once inside, and during business hours, visitors will be able to use the academy’s visitor center, food court, outdoor trails, stables, and golf course. The Falcon Athletics ticket office will also resume regular hours of operation in the Cadet Field House, with the academy hosting its first intercollegiate event on Aug. 14 when the Falcons take on the University of Colorado in a women's soccer game.

The reopening will represent a return to normalcy for cadets as well, with noon meal formations returning on Aug. 9 with the start of the academic year.

Despite much of the academy’s facilities opening back up, the Cadet Chapel, the Planetarium, and the Harmon Hall parking lot will remain closed to the public. Academy officials said they will continue to closely monitor the risks related to the pandemic, and will implement further measures as needed.

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