About the Friends

What We Do

Acquire Artifacts and Documents

The Friends welcome gifts of rare books and artwork, maps, diaries, films, electronic media, personal papers, photographs, correspondence, reports, and other documents dealing with aeronautical and airpower themes.

The Clark Special Collections of the Library contains a significant body of personal papers donated to the Academy by Air Force officers and civilians who were instrumental in the development of American air power. Over 1000 individual collections provide graphic insights from early attempts to master flight through the evolution of military air power.

Cadets enrolled in history, English, and military science classes are given instruction regarding research and writing from primary source materials. Following this instruction, cadets compile research papers based upon documents and other artifacts within the collections. Our collections provide a unique opportunity to the cadets as research projects of this nature usually are only conducted at the graduate level. The collections also support historical monographs, articles, dissertations, and books by the Academy faculty and other air power historians.

Please consider donating artifacts or documents in support of our mission.


Process Collections

Illustrative of the work required to preserve and catalog collections and make them accessible online is the nearly completed work with the collection of General Laurence S. Kuter (1905 – 1979).

Kuter was a brilliant planner and leader. As a major in August 1941, he was one of four principal authors of the plan that guided the use of air power in World War II. Later that year he became the youngest brigadier general in the Army. His career included command of Military Air Transport Service, Pacific Air Forces, Air University, and North American Air Defense Command.

The Kuter Collection occupies 52 large albums (five to ten pounds each) holding thousands of artifacts and documents. To preserve the collection and prepare it for online access, contracted specialists have taken more than 10,000 high resolution photographs; removed and replaced deteriorating protective tissue with over 1,500 pieces of high-quality archival tissue; and edited and digitized over 3,000 album pages.

This work was funded entirely by The Friends.

Projects like this one are immensely rewarding. But these projectsare costly, and hundreds of collections await similar processing.

Please consider supporting our efforts to make the work of leaders like General Kuter accessible to future generations of Air Force leaders.


Supplement Library Staff

The Friends supplement McDermott Library staff by sponsoring public exhibits, galas, and reunions to inform cadets, the Academy community, aviation scholars, and the public about resources and activities of the library. Here are two examples:

The Friends’ Eagle Squadrons Exhibit

From the outbreak of World War II until after Pearl Harbor, several hundred young Americans went to Canada and Britain to train as pilots for the Royal Air Force. They joined three RAF squadrons and distinguished themselves in aerial combat. This exhibit featured twelve display cases filled with photographs, flight log books, memoirs, books and artifacts from the Eagle Squadrons’ Collection for public display. The exhibit was attended by over 200 supporters of The Friends, Academy cadets, faculty and staff and several former members of the Eagle Squadrons.

The Friends’ History of the Academy Exhibit

The Friends sponsored a major exhibit on the history of the Air Force Academy developed from official Academy archives within the Special Collections Branch. Lt. Gen. Bradley C. Hosmer, the first Academy graduate to become Superintendent opened the exhibit with a presentation on the history of the Academy and the significance of the Academy archives. The Acting Secretary of the Air Force, members of the original staff of the Academy, and members of the Academy’s class of 1959 were among the over 200 invited guests who attended the opening.


Sponsor Research Fellowships

The Friends established and funds a program of Clark-Yudkin Research Fellowships named for Lt. Gen. A.P. Clark and Maj. Gen. Richard A. Yudkin, to promote increased scholarly awareness and use of the rich materials available in the Clark Special Collections Branch of the McDermott Library. Research fellows are selected annually to receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. Recipients are expected to complete their fellowship research within one year from the date of the award. The expected output of a fellowship is a scholarly book, thesis, or paper worthy of publication.


Cataloguing the Gimbel Collection


Digitizing the Kuter Collection


Scanning Manuscripts


Rehousing Books


Sorting Photographs










The Eagle Squadrons Exhibit




The History of the Academy Exhibit




Our History

The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library was incorporated in February 1987 as a 501 (c)(3) organization. The principal aim of The Friends is to enhance the quality of the McDermott Library as an educational, research, scientific, and cultural institution. Ultimately, The Friends help the Library grow in stature, thereby strengthening the Academy’s performance of its mission.

Initially formed under the guidance of three former Superintendents of the Air Force Academy, The Friends continue to rely on the leadership of former Academy senior staff members to meet our goals. The Directors of The Friends include former Superintendents and a number of distinguished Air Force officers and community leaders. Three advisors represent the Academy Faculty, the Association of Graduates, and the Director of the Academy Library.

From the beginning, The Friends worked with the Clark Special Collections Branch to acquire and preserve unique original historical collections of personal papers including records, diaries and photographs that are of special significance to the mission and history of the Air Force and the Academy. The Friends have also received gifts of rare books and artwork, memorabilia, films and electronic media dealing with aeronautical and airpower themes.

The Friends published a highly acclaimed catalogue of the Gimbel Collection, The Genesis of Flight, that was accompanied by a state-of-the-art compact disc (CD). Authored by Lt. Gen. A. P. Clark, USAF, and sponsored by The Friends and the Association of Graduates, Falconry at the United States Air Force Academy was co-published with Fulcrum Publishing of Golden Colorado. An accompanying digital video disc (DVD) was also published.

On April 1, 2004, The Friends, in cooperation with the Association of Graduates, officially began the celebration of the Air Force Academy’s 50th anniversary with a reception for over 200 people and the initial screening of the long awaited DVD, Expect Great Things. The evening was the culmination of over two years of hard work by The Friends, the Association of Graduates, and Word One, Inc.

For the next 59 minutes, the audience sat enthralled with views of key events of the Academys first 50 years, video interviews with a number of the people who were instrumental in building the institution as well as graduates who shared their insights into the Academy, their experiences, and what being a graduate of this great institution meant to them.

To mark its 20th anniversary in 2007, the Friends published a brochure highlighting the achievements of the previous 20 years and reinterating its dedication to the Air Force Academy's heritage and history.

Several years ago Lt. Gen. Hubert R. Harmon was officially named the Father of the Air Force Academy. In 2006, The Friends, with support from the USAFA Class of 1959, commissioned a biography with author Dr. Phil Meilinger, Colonel, USAF (ret). Dr. Meilinger is a graduate of the Academy Class of 1970, a command pilot, the author of the definitive biography of General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, and an internationally recognized authority on military history and strategy. Dr. Meilinger is also on The Friends’ Board of Directors. This very significant book, Hubert R. Harmon, Airman, Officer, Father of the Air Force Academy, was published and released at The Friends’ annual luncheon on April 16, 2009.

The Friends continue to sponsor the Honor Book Commemorative Program with the associated Honor Certificates permanently displayed in the Clark Special Collections Branch of the McDermott Library. This program recognizes individuals and units that participated in virtually every American conflict as well as honoring a wide variety of individuals including Academy faculty and staff, spouses, cadets, and graduates.



The Friends History Timeline

A comprehensive chronicle of significant events, projects, meetings, and other activities in the life of the Friends, highlighting the people who support our mission.

Who We Are

Board of Directors

Erlind G. Royer
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

President Emeritus
Philip D. Caine
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

Vice President
John M. Andrew
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

James H. Head
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

Ms. Katherine Wilson

John J. Abbatiello
   Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Albert L. Batten
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

William L. Estelle
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Stephen P. Randolph
  Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Steve G. Green
  Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Michael F. Guyote
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Marianne O. LaRivee
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Richard W. Lemp
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Steven E. Maffeo
   Captain, USNR (Ret)

Douglas J. Murray
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

Paul E. Pirog
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

Ms. Carolyn Seely

Steven A. Simon
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Michael L. Smith
   Brig. General, USAF (Ret)

James R. W. Titus
   Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Honorary Directors

Elliott V. Converse, III
   Colonel, USAF (Ret)

John R. Dallager*
   Maj. General, USAF (Ret)

Mike Gould*
   Lt. General, USAF (Ret)

Charles R. Hamm*
   Lt. General, USAF (Ret)

Bradley C. Hosmer*
   Lt. General, USAF (Ret)

Gary Howe
   Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Phillip Meilinger
   Colonel, USAF (Ret)


Tad J. Oelstrom*
   Lt. General, USAF (Ret)

Mr. Duane J. Reed

Jock C. H. Schwank
   Colonel, USAF (Ret)

Ms. Susan Stone Woodward

*Former Superintendent of the Academy

Contact Us

The Friends of the Air Force Academy Library
P.O. Box 188
USAFA, CO 80840


(719) 247-2486

Our Site


Navigating this site is via a variety of standard web conventions. In addition to The Menu Bar at the top of each page, Text Links, which display as Underlined Blue, and Buttons (Examples, Right), the Primary mode of navigation throughout the site are the Thumbnail Photos. Most thumbnails will link to another page, document, or will enlarge the thumbnail to which it is linked. Two examples from the site are illustrated below.


This thumbnail, when selected, takes the user to the main page for The Genesis of Flight book and collection. From there, the user can browse a vast number of documents and items from the collection, navigating primarily via thumbnail photos.


This thumbnail, when selected, will open a secondary window with an enlarged version of the thumbnail photo. This particular entry also includes a Text Link which opens a copy of the diary page cited in the entry. (From the Leroy Gover Collection).


Remember:  Most thumbnails throughout the site will take the user to another page, document, or photo.