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

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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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. 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.”

  2. 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.

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