Most cadets have memories of clandestine activities undertaken to support “spirit” for sporting events, particularly football. The one that I recall occurred when I was a Doolie in CS-21. Our third-classmen decided they wanted to create the largest spirit banner ever made, at least in their collective memory, and hang it from the spires of the Cadet Chapel. Our contribution to the effort was a donated bed sheet from each fourth-classman and the late-night labor to hang the banner. One of the third-classmen knew a seamstress (or had access to a sewing machine) and had the bed sheets sewn into a rather large banner (approximately 30 sheets in size). The artwork was a group effort but I don’t recall the particulars. A third-classman was an archer and the concept for hanging the banner was to shoot a series of arrows with leader line over the Chapel, attach the heavy and somewhat unwieldy completed banner, and pull it up the side of the Chapel. Simple enough but, as usual, plans and reality seldom coincided.
The first attempt to hang the banner started on a rather frigid night with most of the third and fourth class departing the squadron and rendezvousing at the Chapel. It’s somewhat amazing that our large group was never discovered, but that ended up being the least of our worries. The archer ensured everyone was clear and “he shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth we know not where”. Actually, it clanked off the side of the Chapel and fell at his feet. Numerous other attempts were made, all resulting in failure.
A few hours later we retreated to the warmth of the squadron to determine the reason for the failure and to make plans for the next attempt. We surmised the interior parachute cord that was used for the leader line was probably too heavy for the arrow to make it over the Chapel. For the next attempt we would use lightweight fishing line for the leader to go over the Chapel, attach the interior parachute cord to it to pull up regular parachute cord to hang the banner. We were afraid the Chapel spires might cut the fishing line if we attached the heavier parachute cord directly to it.
The next night a drastically smaller group ventured forward. This time the arrow was launched and, again, clanked off the side of the Chapel. Winds aloft prevented it getting over the Chapel. It seems the Disciples and the Joint Chiefs opposed our idea of using the side of the Cadet Chapel as a billboard. We eventually hung it on the Chapel wall facing the terrazzo. It was large but not as impressive as it would have been hanging from the Chapel spires.
Bill Van Horn
9491 South Johnson Court
Littleton, CO 80127
USAFA Class of '74 - published a book of our experiences for our 40th reunion!