Can You Get More Than 11 Right on This Air Force Quiz?


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: DanielBendjy / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The United States has the largest Air Force in the world and, as you might expect, conducts missions to every corner of the globe. From early combat in the First World War (even before the Air Force officially existed) to the incredible combat that was seen in the Second World War and numerous conflicts since then, the Air Force has been tasked with not just keeping the skies safe but providing invaluable support that keeps every other branch of the military safe as well as civilians on the ground.

In 72 plus years of Air Force history, a lot has happened. Incredible aircraft have been developed to push the envelope of what it means to operate in the skies above our heads. Some experimental aircraft have been developed that can travel at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. They can carry massive amounts of gear, weaponry and personnel and have done so for humanitarian missions as well as during wartime. There's a lot to know about the history of the Air Force; you'd have to be a veritable expert even to hope to ace this quiz. So try your best and let's see if you've got the right stuff.

In what year did the United States Air Force start tracking Santa Claus?

It was Christmas Eve in 1955 when newspaper ads across the country provided children with a phone number they could call if they wanted an update on Santa's location. The number was for the U.S. Air Defense Command and, to this day, they track Santa every Christmas.


Which Air Force base used to hold the majority of the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal?

During the 1960s and 1970s, Minot Air Force base in North Dakota was home to an extensive array of nuclear arms including bombers and ICBMs. During that time, had it been its own country, North Dakota would have been the third-strongest nuclear power on Earth.


Air Force One is the designation for any plane that is transporting the President. What is the tail code of the plane most often used for that job when not designated Air Force One?

There are two aircraft that have been modified to serve as transport for the President, and either one is Air Force One when the President is on it. When he's not, the first is known by its tail number, 28000. The other one is 29000.


What Air Force precursor was formed in 1907?

The U.S. Army Signal Corps created the Aeronautical Division in August of 1907. This later became the US. Army Air Force and then, by the time 1947 rolled around, the Air Force became its own division of the Armed Services.


A USAF F-104 Starfighter was supposed to help open an airport in 1959 but did a very bad job. Where was it?

The Starfighter was meant to do a flyby to celebrate the opening of the Ottawa International Airport's new terminal back in 1959. Unfortunately, the resulting sonic boom shattered every window in the place, and it was an entire year before they could actually open it again.


Actor Jimmy Stewart was in the Air Force. What rank did he achieve?

Jimmy Stewart tried to join the Army but was turned down at first. Later, he did join the Air Force and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He had reached the rank of colonel by the end of the war, and when he retired in the Reserve, he was a Brigadier general.


What other government agency was formed on the same day as the Air Force?

Both the United States Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency both came into being on the 18th of September back in 1947. Of course, the Air Force had existed as a division of the Army for many years prior to that.


The Lockheed AQM-60 Kingfisher was canceled by the Air Force. Why?

The AQM-60 Kingfisher was designed to test military defenses back in the late 1950s. The problem with the project was that it was so good at evading defenses it was embarrassing the military and making every other piece of technology look bad. It just worked too well.


Which Marvel movie did the Air Force consult on?

"Captain Marvel" was not made specifically as a recruiting tool for the U.S. Air Force, but it was made in conjunction with them as Captain Marvel herself was an Air Force pilot. The USAF helped develop the character so she could be depicted in that role as accurately as possible.


Do you know the name of the Airman who first broke the sound barrier?

It was 1947 when Captain Chuck Yeager got into his Bell X-1 aircraft and made history by flying at Mach 1 at an altitude of 45,000 feet. That was just the first of several records Yeager would break during his incredible career.


Where did the Signal Corps test its first airplane back in 1908?

it was August 20, 1908, when the U.S. Army Signal Corps began testing its very first airplane at Fort Myer, Virginia. This was the first step in the Aeronautical Division's mission to handle all matters relating to "military ballooning, air machines and all kindred subjects."


The Air Force built a supercomputer out of Playstation 3s. What was it called?

Condor Cluster was the name of the Air Force Research Lab's supercomputer that was assembled from 1760 Playstation 3s. The computer was made to analyze satellite imagery. It was actually one of the most powerful computers in the world.


What's the nickname of the National Airborn Operations Center?

Known as Doomsday Planes, the National Airborne Operations Centers are a fleet of Boeing aircraft that are designed to remain in flight for up to a week at a time in the event of a catastrophe like a nuclear war. It costs over $150,000 an hour to operate one.


What does the name "ace" signify?

Ace seems like a random nickname for any pilot, but it specifically denotes a pilot who has shot down 5 enemy pilots. A pilot who has shot down 15 enemies would be considered a Triple Ace.


What was the name of the first assembled group of aviators back in 1913?

Aviators were training in both Palm Beach, Florida and Augusta, Georgia back in 1913 when they were all taken to Galveston, Texas. The assembled aviators were called the 1st Provisional Aero Squadron.


What celebrity martial artist got his start in the Air Force?

Chuck Norris, whose real name is actually Carol, was a member of the Air Force as an Air Policeman. The strain of that job saw him focus his efforts instead on a different career path — martial arts.


The Air Force has been involved in the world's longest-running humanitarian airlift. What country do they go to?

In 1952, the Air Force started a Christmas tradition of airlifting Christmas presents to the people on the islands of Micronesia. It's actually the longest-running mission in the Department of Defense's history and over 800,000 pounds of supplies have been dropped.


What massive country only confronted the U.S. once during an air battle in 1944?

Although the U.S. and the USSR were involved in the Cold War for years, there was only one direct confrontation between the two nations, and that took place in 1944 in the air over Serbia. The Air Force was the only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces involved in the conflict.


F-35 pilots need special helmets. What do they cost?

Every helmet for an F-35 pilot is a substantial investment in technology. Officially known as the F-35 Gen III helmet, they cost about $400,000 apiece thanks to the advanced display system that basically lets a pilot see what the plane sees.


Music and military have often gone together. How many bands does the Air Force have?

The Air Force actually has 6 different bands consisting of about 184 active members. These including the "Singing Searagants," "The Concert Band," the jazz band called "Airmen of Note," a rock band called "Max Impact" and both a string band and a brass band.


What did the Air Force lose off the coast of Georgia in 1958?

A Mark 15 nuclear bomb was considered a lightweight weapon at 7,600 pounds. The Air Force lost one in the waters off of Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, and it was never recovered. So ... that's terrifying.


A B-52 is a bomber and an F-35 is a fighter. What does the C in an Air Force craft name stand for?

A craft like the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a cargo and transport craft. Anything with a C starting its name is designated for cargo/transport, which means it's either transporting people or machinery to a destination.


How many Presidents have served as airmen?

Two former Presidents served their country in the Air Force. The first was Ronald Reagan, who actually served when the Air Force was part of the Army. The second was George W. Bush, who was a member of the Air Force Reserve.


How many aircraft does the Air Force operate?

Based on 2017 statistics, the USAF was operating 5,369 aircraft. To pull that off, they need over 300,000 active-duty airmen as well as about 142,000 civilian personnel and 69,000 reserve airmen.


The mission of the Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and where else?

The Air Force obviously fights in the air, and part of their mission also sees them covering defense from space, but the third location in which their mission is set to take place is in cyberspace.


Project A119 was an Air Force plan to detonate a nuclear weapon where?

In 1958, the Air Force had planned to conduct Project A119, which would see them blow up a nuclear weapon on the moon. It was meant to be visible to the naked eye and serve as a morale booster for citizens. The idea that people may have actually hated the idea stopped them from doing it.


What's the official song of the U.S. Air Force?

"The U.S. Air Force" is the name of the official song of the U.S. Air Force. The line "into the wild blue yonder" is actually a ling from the song. It's been their official song since the 1940s.


Not everyone in the Air Force can be a pilot. What percentage of them are pilots?

Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind when most people think about the Air Force is flying planes, but piots only make up 4% of the entire Air Force. It takes a lot of support and other people to make the Air Force work.


The F-22A is highly adept at evading enemy detection. How often does its radar change frequency?

The F-22 uses something called AN/APG-77 AESA radar, which is capable of changing frequency and incredible 1,000 times every second. That ensures enemy forces are pretty much unable to detect it at all.


This jet had no evasive maneuvers at all; it just outflew everything. What was it?

The SR-71 was able to reach speeds over Mach 3, and in fact topped out around 2,192 miles per hour. As such, if someone attacked one, the pilot had no evasive maneuvers; they were simply ordered to fly faster. No SR-71 was ever shot down.


In what country did Air Force One take evasive maneuvers against enemy fighters?

In 1974, President Nixon was traveling to Syria when two fighters approached Air Force One. The pilot took the plane into a dive to evade the jets as no one had informed him that the Syrian fighters were an official escort that had been pre-arranged.


Which of these is the Air Force's largest plane?

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy has been in operation since 1969 and is an absolute beast on wings. It's 22 feet across, 300 feet long and (without any cargo in it at all) weighs an incredible 380,000 pounds.


What unusual rank did Henry Arnold achieve in the Air Force?

Henry Arnold is the only officer to ever achieve the rank of 5-star general in the Air force as the rank was later changed to General of the Air Force. Arnold was also a 5-star general in the Army as well.


Do you know the nickname of the 53rd weather reconnaissance squadron?

Hurricane Hunters is the nickname of the 53rd weather recon squad. Their job is to fly into tropical storms and hurricanes to gather data, and they're the only squad that has that incredibly crazy-sounding job.


How many Air Force officers are women?

Based on data from 2017, about 21% of officers in the Air Force were women. 19.5% of enlisted were women, and 26% of cadets were women. Back in 1950, 2.7% of officers were women.


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