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What new Air Force cadets go through on day one at the Academy

Clayton Dyer,Graham Flanagan   

What new Air Force cadets go through on day one at the Academy
  • We got an inside look at day one for new cadets at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
  • In-Processing Day marks the beginning of these cadets' journey to becoming Air Force officers.
  • Just under 10% of the more than 11,000 applicants were admitted to the Academy.

Following is a transcript of the video.

- Cadre member: Get louder! Louder!

Narrator: On a mild Thursday in June, more than 1,100 appointees arrived at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where future officers prepare to be commissioned into the US Air Force and Space Force.

Man: Good luck.

Woman: Thank you.

Narrator: Insider was there for In-Processing Day, or I-Day, which marks day one of new cadets' time at the academy.

Alexis Odom: Pretty much all my family has been in the military. Both my mom and dad are Air Force veterans.

Ashley Graflund: I'm not from a military family, so I have no idea what I'm going into. I'm just really excited.

Benjamin Janssen: When we drove up here, I was like, wow, this is actually real. It didn't really feel real until we got here and got dropped off.

Narrator: I-Day kicks off the Air Force Academy's basic cadet training, a challenging six-week program that all cadets are required to complete.

Paul Moga: We're going to push them to their physical, emotional, and mental limits. We're going to find out where that line is. And then, over time, deliberately and safely, we're going to push them further than they thought they could go.

Narrator: Just under 10% of the more than 11,000 applicants were admitted to the Academy. Twenty-nine percent of this incoming class is female. And minorities make up 32%. Applicants must pass a physical fitness exam and receive a nomination from their congressional representative.

Richard Clark: It's a very rigorous process. We look for candidates who have strong academic backgrounds, strong athletic backgrounds, but also have demonstrated leadership potential in their careers as students.

Alexis: It hasn't hit me yet, but I think once we, like, start getting into briefings and stuff, and my parents are actually gone, and I'm not going to see them more, I'm probably going to get hit pretty hard.

Narrator: Once inside the athletic center, the appointees make their way through seven different in-processing stations.

Woman: Congratulations, good luck.

Narrator: Appointees are issued a copy of "Contrails," a 192-page guidebook that contains important information about the Air Force and the Air Force Academy.

Moga: They are going to be required to, for the most part, memorize that book from cover to cover.

Woman: For the next step, you only need your proof of citizenship. Everything else you can put away.

Narrator: The appointees have one final opportunity to discreetly dispose of any illegal drugs, weapons, or pornography.

Woman: The easiest way to get in trouble today is be on your cellphone, OK? Do not be that guy.

Narrator: The appointees make their way to the cadet gym to take the oath of allegiance.

Woman: Raise your right hand. I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Cadets: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Narrator: Located 70 miles south of Denver, the academy is nestled into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Announcer: Sheltering the United States Air Force Academy.

Narrator: Congress authorized the creation of the Academy in 1954.

Gen. Robert Warren: We're out to develop motivated, dedicated, regular Air Force officers, all-around men who can handle themselves anywhere in the world and eventually in space.

Woman: Congratulations. You're now officially a basic cadet of the Air Force Academy. Have a great Air Force Academy day.

Narrator: This warm welcome won't last for long, because these new cadets are about to meet the cadre...

Cadre member: Close this gap! Close the gap!

Narrator: ...a select group of upper-class cadets who run basic training.

Cadre member: Come on, don't look at the ground. It's not going anywhere.

Moga: They are my eyes and ears, every single day, down to the individual basic cadet.

Cadre member: Put your bags down. Pick them back up.

Moga: They've been trained over the last several weeks as far as how to properly train the basics.

Cadre member: You will not be looking at the cadre. You will not be looking at the ground. Is that understood?

Cadets: Yes, sir.

Moga: So they know how to put pressure on them. And more importantly, they know how to hold them to standards that they themselves are held to.

Cadre member: This row, get on that freaking bus. Go, go, go, go, go.

Cadre member: You are now basic cadets. Welcome to the United States Air Force Academy.

Narrator: It's here the cadets learn the seven basic responses.

Cadre member: Yes, sir. No, sir. No excuse, sir.

Cadets: Yes, sir. No, sir. No excuse, sir.

Steveison Ivory: So the seven basic responses, that's a tradition here at the United States Air Force Academy. And what that does is it ensures that they're responding correctly when we talk about customs and courtesies, which is expected throughout your entire Air Force career.

Cadre member: Have I made myself clear? Cadets: Yes, sir.

Ivory: So they're expected to respond a certain way and say certain things. And that's the only thing that will be accepted by the cadre.

Cadre member: I will warn you now, if you are not willing to sacrifice your personal comfort, your safety, or your life for your country, stay on my bus. But basics, if you're ready to dedicate yourself towards something bigger than us all and to fight for the United States, then get off my bus! Move it! Move it, let's go!

Ivory: That is where that real shock and awe happens.

Cadre member: Hurry up.

Ivory: There's a lot of command voice. It's very loud. But there's a lot of kind of teaching going on at the moment, but also kind of demanding that they respond and that they listen. Kind of getting that first experience of what we expect from a person in the military.

Cadre member: When you exited that bus, you took the first steps that every member of the long blue line has taken. Do not disappoint those that came before you.

Narrator: The new cadets stand on gray footprints, which are used to teach them how to stand at the position of attention. And the cadre ensures that they learn quickly.

Cadre member: Cadre, fall out and make corrections.

Ivory: I think, initially, the basics are probably pretty scared.

Cadre member: I can't hear you! Get louder!

Ivory: They're probably not sure what to expect. So when they get that shock, and they hear the yelling and screaming, they're probably a little thrown back.

Cadre member: Seven basic responses, go!

Narrator: The new cadets are also quizzed on the seven basic responses that they learned on the bus.

Cadre member: Make sure your classmates can hear you. He's struggling over there.

Narrator: The cadets then make their way up the core values ramp.

Cadre member: I am moving faster than you and I am in heels! Let's go!

Narrator: Which is easier said than done for some cadets.

Cadre member: She's wearing slides, pink freaking slides. Look, I was a stupid basic, I know. But I made some smart decisions before I got here.

Narrator: Upon arrival at Vandenberg Hall, the new cadets receive a colored hat, signifying their graduation class, which they'll wear throughout their time at the academy.

Cadre member: After that, find your squadron. Aggressors through Hellcats, left to right.

Narrator: The cadets are then sorted into their squadrons before a stop at the barbershop. Male cadets must shave their heads. Female cadets' hair can't extend past their shoulder blades. And they must keep it in a ponytail, braid, or tight bun.

Cadre member: Form a line down this wall. You understand?

Cadet: Yes, sir.

Cadre member: Move, let's go.

Narrator: Then, it's time for equipment issue.

Man: Grab your duffel bag. Walk on around to the first window.

Narrator: Cadets receive everything they'll need for basic training, including PT uniforms, bed linens, and a computer. Tuition at the Air Force Academy is free, but cadets commit to five years of active duty service after graduation. While at the academy, cadets receive a salary of about $1,200 per month.

Cadre member: Hurry up!

Narrator: The new cadets pack all of their gear into their duffel bags and head to their dorm rooms to prepare for six challenging weeks of basic training.

Clark: I-Day starts their journey for four years into the rest of their lives. The change that we hope to see, and that we usually do see, is their change as leaders of character. People who are ready to live honorably, but also ready to lift others, lift their teammates, their wingmen, to be their best possible selves. If we get that from our cadets as they leave and go on to serve our country, then we will consider ourselves successful.