U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – The Air Force Academy official mascot named Aurora died midday Wednesday.
Aurora, a White Phase Gyrfalcon and the Academy’s oldest mascot, was 23 years old, roughly twice the age of falcons in the wild.
Aurora was rare. Only three percent of all falcons are Gyrfalcons, and only one percent of Gyrfalcons are white.
In her 23 years at USAFA, she interacted with tens of thousands of people at sporting venues and military and community events.
While Aurora was not among the Academy’s performance falcons that flew over the crowds packing Falcon Stadium or during cadet parades, she was often at public appearances and known across the cadet wing for her lively spirit.
“Our hearts go out to our master-and cadet-falconers, who lovingly cared for and trained Aurora for more than two decades,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Academy Superintendent. “Emblematic of the beauty and majesty of our Falcons, Aurora will be greatly missed by generations of cadets, graduates, faculty members, and so many others.”
“I feel like it’s the end of an era, and she will go down in history,” said Cadet 1st Class James Barney, one of the Academy’s 12 falconers. “She was feisty and she had a long and healthy life.”
She was gifted to the Academy by its Association of Graduates in 2000.