A dozen midshipmen earned the grudging respect of the Air Force Academy by repainting a jet fighter on the Colorado academy's grounds blue and gold, and labeling it with "Navy" and "Blue Angels."
The mids, who are studying there this semester as part of an exchange program, pulled off the prank sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, in advance of Saturday's Navy-Air Force football game in Annapolis.
"This jet is in the center of cadet life," Air Force Academy spokesman John Van Winkle said yesterday. "You cannot be a cadet at the academy and not notice that plane."
The F-4D Phantom fighter, which downed six enemy MiGs in the Vietnam War, is in the middle of the Air Force Academy's assembly area, surrounded by dormitories, a classroom building and the campus chapel. Mr. Van Winkle said. It is normally painted tan and green.
"They have created a little bit of a legacy," Mr. Van Winkle said of the visiting midshipmen.
A Naval Academy spokesman was laughing when he discussed the incident.
"Good on 'em," Cmdr. Rod Gibbons said yesterday of the pranksters.
Mr. Van Winkle offered the Naval Academy some friendly advice:
"Be sure to ask the Navy people about the brass goat statute - just to see if anything happened there," he said of the statute that stands inside Gate 1.
Naval Academy spokesman Judy Campbell said this morning that 20 Air Force cadets are studying in Annapolis this semester, but they have not retaliated. Yet.
"Not at this point, we haven't had any pranks played," Ms. Campbell said. "But it's still not Saturday."
The hoaxes, sometimes called "spirit missions," are all in good fun. The only rules are that the pranks do no permanent damage, and must be cleaned up the following day. In this case, the mids wisely used coloring that washed off the Air Force plane.
Mids in past years have painted things such as "Go Navy!" on a wall at the Air Force Academy, and West Point cadets painted a Ranger insignia on a roof another year but nobody has ever performed a stunt of this magnitude, Mr. Van Winkle said.
Source: The Capital Online