On April 2, 2021, Altus Air Force Base conducted a severe weather fly-away of 29 aircraft from the 97th AMW. The exercise began with an "Elephant Walk" of the aircraft, before they taxied back to the runways to begin some of their Minimal Interval Take-offs (MITO).
With severe storms a threat mainly in the late Spring and early Summer, the 97th Air Mobility Wing has a need to protect their aircraft from large hail and tornadoes. In order to ensure unit readiness for this situation, the Wing has established a yearly exercise to evacuate as many aircraft as possible. Beginning promptly at 9:30 AM, the aircraft began to taxi to the runway and line up. All aircraft were in their proper spots for the photo at 9:45 and by 10:00 the first aircraft began to depart.
29 aircraft were present in this photo, including 12 KC-135R Stratotankers, 5 KC-46A Pegasus, and 12 C-17A Globemaster IIIs. Not all aircraft were able to depart, but a majority successfully completed the evacuation exercise. After departing, the C-17s worked New Mexico and Colorado in low level exercises and the tankers flew North into Nebraska before returning to Altus shortly after lunch.
On arrival, the first KC-135s flew in a loose formation, eventually transitioning into a trailing formation. The arrivals continued until all aircraft had been recovered.
We look forward to seeing this exercise again in 2022.