17 things you didn't know about the US Air Force

Happy 69th BRRRRRRRRRRThday, U.S. Air Force! In a very special episode of “things you didn’t know,” Team Mighty decided to give a shout out to the youngest branch of the U.S. military and fill in the blanks to help people, civilians and non-Airmen alike, learn a few things about those who live in fame or go down in flame.

1. The Air Force tracks Santa.

On December 24, 1955 a newspaper ad told kids that they could call Santa at an included phone number. The number listed called the U.S. Air Defense Command. The colonel on duty ordered his team to give all kids Santa’s “current location.” This tradition now handles calls from over 200 countries.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 10.10.01 AM

2. The Air Force shares its birthday with the CIA.

Both were founded on September 18, 1947.

3. The Air Force used to be in the Army.

On Aug. 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed the Aeronautical Division, which later evolved into the U.S. Army Air Force. The National Defense Act of 1947 created an independent Air Force.

4. An Airman first broke the sound barrier.

In 1947, then-Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 rocket-powered aircraft, kicking off a race of pilots who competed to do the next big thing, eventually leading to outer space and a man on the moon.

101512-chuck-yeager

5. Airmen welcome their new commander by stomping on his or her roof.

A “roof stomp” is an Air Force tradition where airmen welcome a new commander or celebrate a special occasion by climbing up on the commander’s roof and making noise while others are banging on the windows and doors. Kind of like an episode of “The Walking Dead” but without the zombies.

110803-F-MF358-003

6. The Air Force built a supercomputer out of Sony Playstations.

The Air Force Research Lab built a supercomputer called the Condor Cluster to analyze HD satellite imagery. The supercomputer is made up entirely of 1760 Playstation 3’s. It’s the 33rd most-powerful computer in the world.

USAF Condor CLuster Playstation 3 supercomputer

Looks like they’re watching Terminator 2. Appropriate.

7. Airmen get hairier every spring.

Every year, Airmen participate in a Mustache March, a tradition where airmen grow mustaches throughout the month of March to honor Air Force legend, WWII and Vietnam veteran, and triple ace Brig. Gen. Robin Olds.

COL-Robin-Olds-with-AIM-9-Sidewinder

8. An Ace isn’t just a good pilot. They’re the best combat pilots.

An “ace” is a pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft. The top jet ace in U.S. Air Force history is Joseph C. McConnell, a “Triple ace” who shot down 16 MiG fighters during the Korean War over a four month period, bagging three on his last combat mission of the war. His record still stands.

Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr., pilot with the 51st. Fighter Intercepter Wing, who became the 27th Jet Ace of the Korean conflict on 9 March 1953, is shown in the cockpit of his F-86 "Sabre" jet, "Beauteous Butch" talking to his crew chief.

That’s a lot of stars. (U.S. Air Force photo)

9. Airmen respect North Dakota.

At the height of the Cold War, North Dakota was home to so many USAF nuclear weapons that if it seceded from the Union, it would have been the third largest nuclear power in the world.

South Dakota on US map

That’s not North Dakota, that’s South Dakota, but you probably didn’t notice because we’re not in a nuclear war.

10. Some Airmen took the “Live in Fame” part of the Air Force song to heart.

Johnny Cash, George Carlin, Willie Nelson, Morgan Freeman, Hunter S. Thompson, and James Stewart are just a few celebrities who were Airmen. Stewart flew missions in World War II and Vietnam and rose to the rank of Brigadier General while still working in Hollywood.

11. An Air Force tour in Korea made Chuck Norris the man he is today.

While Chuck Norris was stationed in Korea, he realized he wasn’t physically able to do his job as an Air Policeman (now called Security Forces) and developed an interest in martial arts. This is also where he earned the nickname Chuck.

Chuck Norris visit deployed Airmen

And he still drops in for visits.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder)

12. The Air Force boasts two Presidents.

W-high-five

Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush served as airmen. Reagan served in WWII when the branch was still the Army Air Forces. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard before transferring to the Air Force Reserve during the Vietnam era.

13. “Air Force One” isn’t a plane.

Nelly Air Force Ones

It’s not Nelly’s shoes either.

It’s the radio call name for any U.S. Air Force plane carrying the President of the United States. The same as the Marine helicopter carrying POTUS is Marine One.

14. The Air Force’s F-117 fighter uses aerodynamics discovered from bumblebee flight.

F117 Nighthawk

Pictured: USAF Honeybee

15. Air Force weathermen are special forces.

They go through Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Air Force Basic Survival School, Air Force Water Survival Training, Air Force Underwater Egress Training, Combat Control School at Pope Field, North Carolina, and Special Tactics Training at Hurlbert Field. They work primarily with Air Force and Army Special Operations Forces but can also be attached to Marine MARSOC and Navy SEAL teams.

USAF Weather Spec Ops

“Tonight’s forecast calls for Death from Above. Back to you in the studio.”

16. The Air Force is the only branch to directly fight the Soviet Union.

The U.S. and the Soviet Union fought one pitched battle — a dogfight during WWII over the Serbian town of Niš. The outcome wasn’t clear and both governments classified details of the incident.

17. The Air Force has an official band.

They do more than Souza marches, they drop singles and shoot music videos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGdWkl9M_TY&feature=youtu.be

NOW: 32 Terms only Airmen understand >

OR: 9 Reasons you should have joined the Air Force instead >

TOP ARTICLES
How African nations boosted a strong anti-terror force to fight jihadis

African nations have decided to battle against the spread of Islamic extremism in Africa. France, along with several European countries, supports them.

Watch the trailer for Clint Eastwood's new Spencer Stone movie

In Clint Eastwood's new movie, "The 15:17 to Paris", he made the boldly cast the three American heroes as themselves. We Are the Mighty has the trailer.

Why the US is suddenly willing to talk to North Korea

The U.S. said it has a direct line of communication with North Korea; coincidentally a day after Dennis Rodman said he wanted to intervene on their behalf.

7 reasons why active duty hate on reservists

The military is divided into two groups. The hardcore active duty troops and then there are the weekend warriors we've come to know as reservists.

10 reasons all troops should have a pet

Two of the greatest things ever are pets and our troops coming home. Nothing will pull at your heartstrings like when the two are combined.

12 important things that need to be in your bug-out bag yesterday

There are a lot of disasters happening these days. Our resident operator says you need these bare essentials in case of a fast, unplanned evacuation.

These are the insane dangers of being a combat engineer

Once a combat engineer locates an improvised explosive device, the danger's just begun. These guys are tough as nails as they face danger on each patrol.

Yes, the Army has fixed-wing aircraft and it flew this tank for 30 years

This obscure United States Army transport could bring 30 troops or three pallets of cargo to a location where a C-130 Hercules was unable to land.

5 life lessons today's troops could learn from Vietnam vets

The truth is, that old Vietnam vet you met at the Legion while trying to get cheap drinks isn't all that different from the men and women fighting today.

China's version of the F-15 Strike Eagle is a huge ripoff

China copied a multi-role version of the Russian Flanker to field a plane comparable to the F-15E Strike Eagle. How's this capable airframe stack up?