America’s defense policies during the early Cold War years necessitated a major expansion of the Air Force. The Service grew from 305,827 in 1947 to nearly 1,000,000 personnel by 1954. Accordingly, the Service needed approximately 1,200 new junior officers a year to fill its ranks. To meet the challenges of the complex nuclear age, the Air Force would require not only more, but better-educated officers.
As early as World War I, some Air Service officers felt that the Air Service should have an academy to train future officers. In 1918, Lieutenant Colonel A.J. Hanlon claimed, “As the Military and Naval Academies are the backbone of the Army and Navy, so must the Aeronautical Academy be the backbone of the Air Service. No Service can flourish without some such institution to inculcate into its embryonic officers love of country, proper conception of duty, and highest regard for honor.” By 1925, the Army Air Service did have several training schools for its officers and enlisted personnel, but these were not comparable to the four-year college programs of West Point and the Naval Academy. In the years following World War II, several congressmen and senators introduced bills to establish an air academy in their state. None of these bills was acted upon, however.