Military Aviation


Often an elephant walk takes place right before a Minimum Interval Takeoff 

Taken on Sep. 16, 2017 during exercise Beverly Sunrise (BS) 17-07 the cool photos in this post show 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadron lining the runway during an elephant walk at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Noteworthy BS 17-07 is a simulated deployment to test the readiness of the 35th Fighter Wing (FW). The exercise assesses the 35th FW’s ability to meet deployment and wartime taskings to better prepare for real-world scenarios throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

As we have already explained an elephant walk is a U.S. Air Force (USAF) term referred to the taxiing of military aircraft right before takeoff, when they are in close formation.

Often, it takes place right before a Minimum Interval Takeoff (MITO).

The term elephant walk dates to World War II when large fleets of allied bombers would conduct attacks in missions containing 1,000 aircraft.

Those who observed this said that the taxiing of these large numbers of aircraft to takeoff in single file in nose-to-tail formations looked like elephants walking to the next watering hole.

Over time, it was incorporated into USAF lexicon to identify a “maximum sortie surge.”

The benefits of an elephant walk include being able to show the capability of the units as well as teamwork. It is often performed to prepare squadrons for war time operations, as well as prepare pilots for the launching of fully armed aircraft in one mass event.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase and Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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