The Fighter Pilot Elephant Walk

Five different fighter squadrons at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, recently loaded every available aircraft in its go-to-war configuration and then conducted an “elephant walk” — taxiing slowly down the runway in a mass formation and back to parking.

In theory, the elephant walk tests every part of a unit’s ability to go to war — including loading live weapons — except actually launching/flying.  It proves that, if called upon, a unit can generate (almost) every aircraft in its combat configuration on a specific timeline.  While it might seem odd to taxi around the field, even that “wrings out” possible issues with ordnance, aircraft, and even personnel.

A unit at Seymour Johnson recently did an elephant walk as well, except they weren’t loaded with a combat load, and they then turned around and launched the sorties on their planned training missions.  So while the picture looks neat, the objective of the runway taxi is unclear — except for the obvious photo op.

Note the difference in the skies.  That’s a good day in Korea.