Aurora, The Air Force Academy’s Oldest Falcon Mascot, Dies

October 3, 2019
Air Force Academy Animal Mascot Aurora, a rare white gyrfalcon.
Air Force Academy Animal Mascot Aurora, a rare white gyrfalcon.
Courtesy Air Force Academy
Air Force Academy Animal Mascot Aurora, a rare white gyrfalcon.

A falcon that served as a mascot for the U.S. Air Force Academy for the past 23 years has died.

The academy announced Aurora’s death Wednesday, saying she was the longest-serving live mascot in the school’s 65-year history.

Aurora was a white phase gyrfalcon, a falcon species that is rare in the wild. Three percent of all falcons are gyrfalcons, and 1 percent of those are white, according to the school's falconry page.

Aurora had recovered from injuries to both wings in 2018 during a prank abduction before the annual football game against the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

"In addition to serving as an ambassador for USAFA, she was an ambassador for all falcons, helping us educate the public on the importance of these majestic birds," Air Force said in a statement. "Her impact on the nearly 30 class years of cadet falconers and Falconry Team support staff cannot be overstated. She was a feisty, spirited bird who commanded respect. We all feel her loss deeply."

The Air Force Academy uses several falcons during home games and Aurora attended most away games to greet fans.