Air Force mascot Aurora is cleared for flight following prank that left her bloodied

Air Force Academy falconer Josh Johnson stands with falcon Aurora, the academy's official mascot, at the end of a game against Rice on Sept. 28, 1996, at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colo. The falcon was injured during a prank before the annual rivalry football game against Army.


By BRENT BRIGGEMAN | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: December 10, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — Aurora is back in action.

The white gyrfalcon mascot who was taken as part of a prank at West Point in early November and suffered a bloodied wing, was medically cleared and performed at Air Force’s home football game against Colorado State on Thanksgiving.

West Point officials did not respond to The Gazette’s request for updates in the investigation into Aurora’s disappearance or to see if any warnings or policy changes were instituted to prevent similar pranks this week as Army prepares for its annual clash with Navy in football. An Air Force spokesman had not heard of any punishments handed down from the incident.

Army issued an apology the day after Aurora was taken, saying the “matter is currently under investigation.”

The prank involved two West Point cadets taking Aurora and Oblio, a peregrine falcon, according to The New York Times.

The cadets threw sweaters over the birds, and later stuffed them into dog crates, Sam Dollar, the Air Force Academy's falconry team adviser, told the newspaper. When the cadets returned the birds the next morning, Aurora had blood on her wings from abrasions likely caused by thrashing around in the crate, Dollar said.

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