The Air Force Celebrates its 71st Birthday: 10 Facts you Should Know

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At just 71 years old, the U.S. Air Force is the youngest our country’s armed services. But the service’s relatively “young” age belies the experience and dedication that airmen throughout the years have contributed to its mission.


Although the Department of the Air Force as we know it now was established in 1947, the service actually got its start as part of the Army in 1907.


Here are a few more important dates in Air Force history.

Sept. 18, 1947: President Harry Truman signs the National Security Act establishing the U.S. Air Force.

June 12, 1948: Congress passes the Women’s Armed Service Integration Act enabling women to serve in the Air Force.

June 8, 1953: The Air Force Thunderbirds perform for the first time at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.


Dec. 18, 1958: The Air Force launches the first communications satellite into orbit.

June 3, 1959: The U.S. Air Force Academy graduates its first class of 207 cadets.

July 26, 1971: Apollo 15 blasts off from Cape Kennedy featuring an all-Air Force crew.


June 28, 1976: The Air Force Academy becomes the first of the three Department of Defense service academies to admit female cadets.

Sept. 3, 1996: The Air Force begins operating the first unmanned aerial vehicle.

Aug. 18, 2009: The Air Force actives the 24th Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base to oversee the service’s cyber mission.

Sept. 18, 2018: The Air Force celebrates its 71st birthday.


Related: Celebrate the Air Force with a look at its accomplishments over the past year


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