[Photo] Twenty-two cargo planes commemorate 9-11 anniversary with an impressive “Elephant Walk”

Sep 11 2013 - 13 Comments

It took over 36 minutes for all the 22-aircraft involved in the “freedom launch” that took place at Travis AFB, California, on Sept. 11, 2013, to take off.

Seven C-17 Globemaster IIIs, 11 KC-10 Extenders and four C-5B Galaxies from the 60th Air Mobility Wing lined up in what is commonly referred to as an “elephant walk,” then launched consecutively to take part in Air Mobility Command missions, with the first plane in the lineup, a C-17 Globemaster, launching at 8:46 a.m., the same time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City 12 years earlier.

“Elephant Walks” are a kind of collective display of capability and teamwork, during which military aircraft taxi in sequence right before a minimum interval takeoff.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force/Ken Wright


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  • ahmed mohammed

    What a great way to spend $456,000

    • PopoySD

      It’s sad that you think everything is about money…show some respect for goodness sake. It doesn’t matter how they commemorate, it’s the thought that counts.

    • RegenRob

      At the end of the day, it was our military honoring the senseless loss of life and a great training opportunity. Be afraid, send a text to all of your extended family – we’re still here and we’re still united – freak show.

    • ask2wice

      It most certainly was not just a flight “into the wild blue yonder”. When these evolutions take place, they are integrated with training requirements for junior personnel – all of whom must become proficient in all phases of whatever mission the aircraft may be tasked with. Was there any “use it or lose it” monetary considerations involved here? Probably little – if any – given sequestration and the limited budgets all U.S. military services are operating under these days. So jumping to conclusions on costs based solely on a photo is … well, shall we say … ill-advised. Using training operations to remind the American people of the atrocity that took place on 9/11 is not!

  • Prestwick Pioneer

    How is it a celebration? There was nothing to celebrate. Maybe commemorate?

  • ask2wice

    While the photo certainly looks impressive, I’d much rather see a Raptor, Eagle or Falcon “walk”. Or perhaps all three, with an overflight by a dozen or so Apaches! I think that would send a much more appropriate message!

  • SpellWell

    And that commanding officer still has his job? What a colossal waste of money.

    • H.E. Pennypacker

      It is also a training exercise, just being done in a way to show respect for those who were lost on 9/11.

    • CruisingTroll

      Why is it a waste of money? Since your ability to pick out information is obviously subpar, I’ll repeat a significant point for you:

      “then launched consecutively to take part in Air Mobility Command missions,”

      To explain: The aircraft already had AMC missions. The Elephant Walk was essentially a matter of lining up the birds scheduled for the morning’s missions and quick launching ’em.

  • John

    The money had to be spent anyways. If you knew about government pots of money and how it’s allocated, flying “hours” are given to units and they must use them up before the end of the fiscal year or they’ll get less funding the following year. That being said, I’m sure actual training was accomplished on these flights. Pilots are actually very responsible with maximizing training opportunities. So it is a wonderful way to spend the money.

  • Ken

    I agree on commemorate rather than celebrate, but as far as training opportunities go with the definition of the “Elephant Walk” it sure seems to describe a fair amount of skill involved which sure sounds like training had occurred or was necessary for a “minimum interval takeoff.”

  • Rick Whittington

    The biggest waste of money is spent on Air Force 1.
    God bless America and never forget 9/11.
    God bless the men and women who serve this great nation and put themselves in harms way.
    God bless those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. There are no words that can truly express my gratitude.
    God bless their families who have lost so much.
    I can only say I love you.

  • Dirk

    It would be all the more impressive if we weren’t bankrupt!