Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development—Air Force Academy Bound

  • Published
  • By Col. Beth Kwasny
  • 301st Fighter Wing Inspector General

The first of March opened the admissions cycle for the Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development (LEAD) Program. The LEAD Program is an ongoing effort to give our best and brightest Airmen the opportunity to attend the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Co.  The program was initiated by then Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Ronald Fogleman in 1995. It delegates authority to unit commanders to nominate qualified Airmen to compete for an appointment to USAFA or attend the Preparatory School with the intention of a USAFA appointment to follow. The Air Force looks to commanders to find and nominate “leading edge” qualified Airmen who are top performers. They must demonstrate the highest of moral character, strong academic ability and be physically fit.  Interested Airmen should complete the Pre-Candidate Questionnaire (PCQ) online at www.academyadmissions.com and work with their commanders to submit the AF Form 1786 along with the other required items for the application package. 

To be eligible, Airmen must be a US citizen or be able to obtain citizenship before entry into USAFA; be unmarried and have no dependents; must not have passed their 23rd birthday on July 1 of the entering year for direct entry into USAFA; must not have passed their 22nd birthday on Jul 1 of the entering year for entry to the Air Force Academy Preparatory School.  Airman will also need to meet Enlisted Commissioning Program application eligibility requirements including time-in-service, time-on-station, assignment, etc. in accordance with AFMAN 36-2031, Table 10.6. Any waiver requests must be submitted through the appropriate waiver authority listed.

The AF Form 1786 may be submitted as early as July 1 but no later than January 31 for this admissions cycle.

Admissions counselors at the Air Force Academy and Admissions Liaison Officers in every local area are available to assist Airmen navigate the application process once an Airman has completed the PCQ.  For assistance, please call the Admissions office at 1-800-443-9266 or email USAFA_LEAD@usafa.edu.  For other inquiries, Admissions Liaison Officers in the 301st Fighter Wing include: Capt. Whitney, Maj. Wallace, Lt. Col. Barron, and Col. Kwasny.



LEAD Timetable

Submit Pre-Candidate Questionnaire (PCQ) online

No earlier than March 1 of year prior to entry

NLT December 31

AF Form 1786 submitted

No earlier than July 1 of year prior to entry

No later than January 31 of year of entry

Completed Candidate Packages

NLT January 31

USAFA provides MAJCOMs a list of qualified candidates (for non-selected Airmen, availability coded is removed at this time)


Airmen can accept/decline

Through May 1 (direct)/April 15 (Prep)

USAFA In-processing Day for direct appointees


USAFA Preparatory School In-processing Day



Required Candidate Package Items:

- Complete Pre-Candidate Questionnaire (PCQ) online at www.academyadmissions.com

- AF Form 1786

- Complete Form 147, Extracurricular activities record, online at www.academyadmissions.com

- 3 Letters of Evaluation (Unit Commander, First Sergeant or supervisor and other military officer on Active Duty/Reserve/Guard)

- Train and complete Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)

- Complete writing sample

- Complete AF Form 2030

- Complete interview with assigned Admissions Liaison Officer

- Include up to two additional Letters of Recommendations (optional)

- Complete medical evaluation

- Standardized Test Scores (SAT or ACT) submitted within 5 years of test date

- High school and college (if applicable) transcripts submitted

Public Affairs (817) 782-5000