‘Elephant Walk’: McConnell airmen fly high in preparation for severe weather

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Airmen at McConnell Air Force Base had a busy morning getting ready for a severe weather exercise Wednesday.

Ten aircraft, eight KC-46s, and two KC-135s were a part of Wednesday’s exercise to perform a severe weather evacuation exercise, which usually happens in the spring. The aircraft did an “elephant walk.” A process where there is a tight formation of aircraft taxiing right before taking off.

“Every spring, we know here in Kansas we get pretty severe weather so this is our efforts to prepare for this. Several years back we had a fleet-wide damage issue from hail so we want to make sure we avoid that in the future,” said McConnell KC-46 Aircraft Maintenance Unit Officer, Captain Dustin Bordelon.

Captain Bordelon said when aircraft have to evacuate a base they don’t stay airborne. They travel to area bases where they can avoid severe weather and return once the base and grounds are clear.

Airmen get a 24-hour warning before they have to generate aircraft and fly out. Aircraft that are used for missions are the ones that leave the ground as soon as they’re ready, which can take six to eight hours per aircraft to generate.

“Every spring we know here in Kansas we get pretty severe weather so this is our efforts to prepare for this. Several years back we had a fleet-wide damage issue from hail so we want to make sure we avoid that in the future,” said Captain Bordelon.

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