The Air Force Academy’s newest mascot now has a name.
The female gyrfalcon has been named Nova, the academy announced in a tweet Sept. 3.
“Nova, an exceedingly bright star, represents the future of our Academy as a commissioning source for both Air & Space Force officers,” the academy said.
The academy first unveiled Nova — then an unnamed 1-month-old chick — in June. The academy said the Cadet Wing would vote on her name, and asked the public to submit their ideas using the hashtag #YourAcademy.
The public’s suggestions ranged from the serious — such as Athena and Wild Blue — to the silly, including Feather Locklear and Falcon McFalconface. But ultimately, the cadets went with Nova.
The academy has several falcon mascots. Nova is replacing Aurora, who died last October at the age of 23. Aurora was the longest-serving live mascot in academy history.
Aurora suffered injuries to both her wings in 2018 when West Point cadets kidnapped her as a prank before the football game between the two academies. However, Aurora recovered from her injuries.
After the academy first presented Nova to the public in June, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria a letter asking him to stop using live falcons as mascots.
Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.