USAFA Admissions

Airman Program (LEAD)


U.S. Air Force Academy is for Airmen

  • USAFA uses the Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development (LEAD) Program to give our best and brightest Airmen a chance to enter the commissioned ranks.
  • The admissions process for enlisted Airmen is basically the same as that for other applicants. The only exceptions are the nominating source and the letters of recommendation.
  • USAFA is a great opportunity for our enlisted Airmen, and our prior service cadets bring a different perspective to the cadet corps. 

As an enlisted weapons troop, it's a A1C Carter's job to make sure bombs, missiles, and ammunitions are loaded properly onto the A-10, so when the bomb dropped that he had been accepted into the Air Force Academy, it was the start of a very exciting journey.

I first found out that I got accepted to the Academy, because I had a Commander's call, and my whole shop I called in. And we were all kind of scared, because we thought we got in trouble or something. But it actually turned out that I was the one getting called up to the Commander, and I was pretty scared. I was shaking in my boots. And then I realized that it was actually really good news, and I actually got accepted to the Academy. And she coined me, and gave me a certificate.

Airman Carter applied for the Leaders Encouraging Airman Development, or LEAD program, after hearing about it from a friend. The program gives enlisted airmen who already possess military knowledge and leadership qualities the opportunity to enter the Academy.

Best thing they could do is to go online to and apply online at a pre-candidate questionnaire. You can look through, and click through, and it says advice to airmen. Click on that section right there, pull that up, and then it'll tell you what to do as an airman, and how to apply.

It takes dedication to apply and be accepted into the LEAD program, but for those who dream of one day becoming an officer, it's a small sacrifice for all the hard work put in. Airman Carter keeps something with him to remind himself of that, every day.

I keep my bars in my wallet, just because It's a reminder to, for me, what I'm striving for. And it's a physical goal that I can see with my eyes. I will reach that goal. I will put these bars on someday.

It may be something as simple as keeping his next rank in his wallet, but it's that piece of fabric with the gold stitching that symbolizes a dream, one step closer to becoming true. Airman Basic Caitlin Molar, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

Recruiting the Right Cadets

The Application Process

Cadet Fitness Requirements

Airman Program (LEAD)

Second Chances

No Stopping Him