T-6 Texan IIs from the 559th Flying Training Squadron and the 39th FTS participated in an “Elephant Walk” at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. One, painted in the colors of the B-25s that flew in World War II.
“Elephant walk” exercises are conducted quite regularly at airbases all around the world to test the squadrons ability to launch large formations of aircraft at short notice.
During this kind of drills, combat planes (including tankers) taxi in close formation in the same way they would do in case of a minimum interval takeoff; still, depending on the purpose of the training event, the aircraft can either take off or return back to their parking slots.
“Elephant Walks” have always been particularly frequent in South Korea where local-based U.S. Air Force jets (often alongside Republic of Korea Air Force planes) often stage such “collective shows of force” in response to North Korea’s aggressive posture and threats: tens of U.S. F-16s, A-10s and South Korea’s ROKAF KF-16s regularly taxi down the runway at Kunsan or Osan airbases, in collective “shows of force” whose primary aim is to test squadrons’ readiness to war time operations. However, similar exercises are also conducted at airbases in Continental U.S. as happened, for instance, in April 2012, when nearly 70 F-15E Strike Eagles took part to one of the largest Elephant Walk to date at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
The latest Elephant Walk on the U.S. soil took place on Oct. 26, 2018, when T-6 Texan II single-engine, two-seat turboprop primary trainer aircraft from the 559th Flying Training Squadron and the 39th FTS participated in an “Elephant Walk” at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Although Elephant Walks are commonly performed as a “show of force,” the Squadron at Randolph conducted one to get in touch with their heritage: both were formed and operated during WWII. The exercise was called a “Goat Trot/Snake Slither” as the 559th are the fighting Billy Goats and the 39th are the Cobras.
The 559th Flying Training Squadron provides T-6A Pilot Instructor Training for Joint Primary Pilot Training and CSO training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The squadron flies more than 16,000 hours annually in a fleet of 38 T-6A aircraft and qualifies more than 200 U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine and allied pilots annually.
The 39th FTS is part of the 340th Flying Training Group and is the reserve associate to the 12th Flying Training Wing based at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
Noteworthy, since the 559th FTS traces its lineage back to the 81st Bombardment Squadron, the lead aircraft was painted in the colors of the B-25s they flew in World War II.
Based on the photographs, 23 T-6 aircraft took part in the Elephant Walk.