49ers’ week at Air Force Academy shows NFL, military’s close ties

49ers' week at Air Force Academy shows NFL's close military ties originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Air Force Academy hosting the 49ers for a week of training is part of the close relationship between the U.S. Armed Forces and the NFL.

The club spent a week in Colorado Springs training for the 7,200 feet of elevation they will experience in Mexico City in their "Monday Night Football" showdown facing the Arizona Cardinals. The Air Force’s hospitality did not go unnoticed by Nick Bosa and his teammates, who, despite the cold, appreciated their time at the Academy.

“It’s been amazing,” Bosa said on Friday. “They’ve been really hospitable. It’s been great to be here. The weather has been awesome.”

Several of the 49ers players joined the Air Force cadets in Mitchell Hall for their lunch break after arriving on Tuesday afternoon. The 20-minute session included announcements made by players instead of Air Force leadership.

The team also received a motivational speech from General Clark, who heads the Academy.

Along with providing a facility for the 49ers to train, the Air Force’s Wings of Blue parachute team was kind enough to offer a demonstration of a parachute jump for NBC Sports Bay Area.

I was allowed to join group of experienced jumpers and two cadets to experience a tandem jump along with special guest Lisa McCaffrey -- Christian’s mother.

Wings of Blue is the only free-fall program in the military, and while our first jumps were with very experienced members of the program, cadets perform their very first jump solo.

The parachuters that are seen during NFL pregame events have over two years of training and at least 500 jumps of experience. The group jumps into every Air Force football home game, weather permitting, as well as several bowl games and other outdoor sporting events.

Prior to our jump, we climbed to 17,500 feet above sea level, or 11,000 feet above the ground over the Academy. Location accuracy and the consideration of weather were as important as the timing of the jump, and our experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Nearly a minute of free fall before deploying the parachute was exhilarating, and it offered a realization and respect of not only their ability to simply jump out of a plane, but also the possibility of needing to do it while on a mission.

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All Air Force cadets are offered the opportunity to take part in the jump program that includes five total jumps. Only those that perform the best are offered the opportunity to join the airmanship class, which could lead to being part of the Wings of Green group before the opportunity to be a part of the Wings of Blue.

The Air Force Academy has hosted the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots prior to the 49ers’ week at the facility, all in order to prepare for their games in Mexico City.

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