National Geographic : 1959 Jun
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY Where Falcons Wear Air Force Blue By NATHANIEL T. KENNEY National Geographic Senior Staff Photographs by WILLIAM BELKNAP, JR. IN THE thin, keen air on our side of the snowy peaks, a winged thing circled fast. Abruptly it zoomed, hung a split second at the top of its climb, then plunged like a bomb into the afternoon sun. Half blinded by the light, I turned my back. "Here he comes again!" Mr. Melancon shouted. "Bring him down this time!" Across the field a young man in blue uniform, whistling like someone calling a dog, stepped up the speed of a misshapen apparatus he whirled at the end of a string. Tension flexed his knees as he stared into the sun. Suddenly he let the whirling object fly out ahead of him. I felt a rush of air and heard a tinkling sound, as of tiny bells. Something whooshed past my ear and struck the object on the end of the 845 @ NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Academy symbol perches on the hand of cadet falconer John F. Hutchinson. Handlers fly the birds during half time at football games. Cadets call their falcons Mach, a term relating to the speed of sound. f.