February 04, 2020

Air Force Association Celebrates 74th Birthday

Arlington, Va. – The Air Force Association (AFA) is celebrating its 74th birthday, by honoring their monumental accomplishments over the last three quarters of a century. AFA has been a professional military and aerospace education association since its establishment in 1946.

AFA’s first national president was noted aviation pioneer and Medal of Honor recipient, General Jimmy Doolittle, who spent AFA’s inaugural year launching chapters across the country. “While AFA has evolved over the decades to uphold the military’s standards, promoting a strong national defense and honoring and supporting Airmen and the Air Force Family has remained our core focus,” said General Bruce “Orville” Wright, AFA’s President.

Significant Moments in AFA’s History

  • 1946: AFA was incorporated in Washington, D.C.
  • 1956: The Air Force Association Foundation - later the Aerospace Education Foundation - was formally established.
  • 1956: AFA honors the first class of Outstanding Airmen of the Year (OAY) at its 10th national convention.
  • 1960: AFA life insurance program begins, meeting a critical need for the families of military aviators, helping them obtain life insurance generally not available to them through other sources.
  • 1964: AFA’s Airmen’s Council asks USAF to appoint a “Sergeant Major of the Air Force.” While the proposal was initially turned down, the effort continued until 1967 when the first Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force was appointed. 
  • 1967: The Aerospace Education Foundation undertakes “Project Utah” in cooperation with the U.S. Office of Education, which has received major credit for later helping secure accreditation for the Community College of the Air Force.
  • 1992: AFA creates the Air Force Memorial Foundation, to fundraise for a memorial to honor the Air Force, the memorial is dedicated in 2006,
  • 2007: AFA establishes the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. The institute seeks to carry on, in the modern-day, General Mitchell’s tireless and dedicated effort to expand airpower thinking and increase public awareness of the need for this unique military instrument.
  • 2009: AFA’s CyberPatriot program hosts its first competition. CyberPatriot was conceived by AFA to inspire high school students to pursue careers in cybersecurity or other STEM disciplines critical to our nation's future. 
  • 2011: AFA establishes its Wounded Airman Program (WAP), helping wounded, ill, and injured Airmen. AFA has given $625,000 to Airmen and their families.
  • 2015: AFA's StellarXplorers program hosts its first competition. StellarXplorers is a rigorous hands-on space system design challenge that involves all aspects of system development and operation, focusing on spacecraft and payload.
  • 2020: AFA establishes the General James Doolittle Leadership Center, offering a stronger warfighter and industry leadership team.

AFA plans to continue to support Airmen and their families and looks forward to celebrating its 75th Birthday in 2021.