Why do PLANES get WATER SALUTES? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE


Dear friends and followers, welcome back to my channel and to a quick video about why do you sometimes see airplanes taxiing through water fountains at airports. And how does that relate to ships and Salt Lake City International Airport and what is so different in this video right here? So let’s fire up those water pumps and let’s get started. Now maybe you’ve seen such a rare event whilst waiting at the airport terminal and an airplane is taxiing towards or from the gate in between two fire trucks which suddenly start spraying water and create an arch for the plane to taxi through. What’s up with that? In the earlier days when ocean liners were inaugurated for their first trip overseas, fire boats would line up and use their water cannons to spray an arch over or near the boat to signalize and congratulate its maiden voyage. Now the same ceremony was then performed when they arrived at ports for the first time, adding the new destination to their route network. So you see the water salute is not unique to airplanes, it’s actually the mariners who started at all. So in the 1990s, Salt Lake City International Airport started saluting retiring Delta airline pilots with a farewell water salute which then became common practice. So rumors say that’s where all the water spraying started. But there’s a little more to than just a beautiful water arch followed by a rainbow. Now to create the arch you need two very powerful aircraft rescue firefighting trucks, a taxiway wide enough to place a truck on either side of the plane, consider wind speed and direction as you do not want to drench boarding passengers at a nearby parked low-cost airline and obviously everything needs to be coordinated with ATC. Now once everything is set up, the firefighters wait for the arriving plane and listen via ATC for their signal to shoot roughly 3,000 gallons of water over the plane. Now you immediately think what a waste of water. Well, you have to see the benefit of this action now luckily firefighters only rarely have to use the water cannons of their rescue trucks and therefore it’s good practice to test the equipment now and then to ensure everything is working properly. Now all this excitement, but what for? Now, there are many occasions for a water salute or a so-called shower of affection. Now for example airlines which have added a new destination to their route network get welcomed by the airport with a water salute. Now here you can hear the KLM captain of an Airbus A330 addressing his passengers that they will be greeted by the fire brigade as this is their first flight to Edmonton, Canada. This is our first arrival in Edmonton airport, we will be greeted by the fire brigade with a so called ‘shower of affection’ *passengers lightly cheer* In dutch: Ladies en gentlemen, once again, from the cockpit… It’s good practice by the captain announcing the rare welcoming otherwise seeing fire trucks that lining up with all their lights on and spraying water onto the plane could cause panic among the passengers. Now in this example, Etihad has been flying to Casablanca for the past years. But now operates this route with a new Boeing 787-900, so the airport congratulated a new addition to their fleet and welcomed the passengers and crew upon arrival. And this example here shows the arrival of a Boeing 777 by Qatar Airways performing the longest commercial flight from Doha to Auckland New Zealand in 2017. Now, a little contest. How much fuel and how many passengers were on board that flight? Comment below and the correct answer gets pinned. A more seldom event can be seen when airlines officially shut down their operations and get a water salute at the destination for the final and last flight ever. I’ve been there and done that and I do not need to see that again. And then there is the honorary tradition, to farewell a retiring captain with a water salute on his or her last flight. Now this obviously needs to be planned in advance by the airline as airports don’t know when pilots retire but I’ve heard the funniest stories that co-pilots contacted the airport authorities via ATC ordering the water salute whilst the captain was on the toilet. Now, so everyone was waiting on the ground as the captain came in for his last landing. I personally haven’t had the experience to join a captain on his last flight, but I’ve heard from other colleagues that the cockpit becomes unusually quiet as this is a very emotional way of saying goodbye to his airline and especially to the plane he has flown for the past years. And this is how it could sound on ATC. And by the way, that’s Kennedy Steve. Ever heard of him? Just type in Kennedy Steve and you’ll find the most interesting and funniest ATC conversations from JFK ever. And by the way, Steve if you’re watching please contact me. I would love to have an interview with you. So, what you see here is not a water salute and often gets mistaken. This is actually a plane getting washed. A lot of military and search rescue aircrafts, which fly low or hover over salt water get a proper wash now and then to prevent corrosion. So nowadays these water salutes are a total eye catcher for plane spotters and waiting passengers. So what started as an unofficial gesture in the 1990s by Salt Lake City Airport officials is now a common practice all over the world. Luckily, I have many more years to fly until my final water salute. By the way, if you have seen any other traditions at airports, please comment below, I’ll be happy to read about your experiences. That’s it for today, thank you very much for your time. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button plus the notification bell so you won’t miss out on upcoming videos and don’t forget, a good pilot is always learning. Wishing you all the best, see you next week. Your Captain Joe. I am not even a subscriber, putting in this effort, but feels good to help.

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