AVIANO AB ELEPHANT WALK
Monday, June 1, 2020, the 31st Fighter Wing conducted an Elephant Walk and COVD_19 flyover. Performed for first time in the Aviano AB history, the Elephant Walk was intended to showcase the continued combat power of Aviano AB and give thanks to all healthcare workers, first responders, doctors and all essential personnel working in the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. Twenty-three F-16s was launched one right after other in about six minutes, while two HH-60Gs were flanking the runway. The Elephant Walk also intended a Slovenian show of gratitude to essential workers amidst the challenges of COVID-19. A six-ship formation of F-16Cs and F-16D carried out a flight over the Slovenia and three Pilatus PC-9M, belonging to 152a Letalska Eskadrilija of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SLovenska Vojska) from Cerklje air base, joined the F-16D in flight formation. The Elephant Walk maneuver originated during the Second World War. It was related to the formations of bombers which generated bombing missions involving hundreds and hundreds B-17s, B-24s and B-29s. Witnesses of those massive taxiing and take off commented that "the nose-to-tail, single-file taxi movements of heavy bombers resembled the nose-to-tail trail of lumbering elephants on their way to the next watering hole". In the Cold War era, the Elephant Walk was often associated to the maximun sortie generated by the wings of the Strategic Air Command, so much so that it became part in the Inspector General Exercises. A lot of examples can be found in the web. Although not declared as Elephant Walk , something of similar occurred at Aviano AB March 26, 2003, when fifteen C-17s did a massive taxiing and take off one after the other for the first of the air dropping missions of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Sky Soldiers' to northern Iraq in the Operation Iraqi Freedom. This kind of manouver “demonstrated 31st Fighter Wing combat readiness and ability to generate and mobilize its forces. The Elephant Walk would be never happen if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of our maintenance Airmen …. due the COVID-19 restrictions, planning meetings conducted normally in person had to be done online with new ways in the everyday life. In the end, the situation actually strenghtened the team” as Major Michael Watts, 510th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations, said.
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