Home Airlines What Are Water Salutes & Why Do Planes Get Them?

What Are Water Salutes & Why Do Planes Get Them?

by SharonKurheg

A water salute occurs for ceremonial purposes when a vehicle travels under plumes of water expelled by one or more fire fighting vehicles.

At an airport, an even number of vehicles (usually fire trucks supplied with water cannons) will line up and as the plane goes between them, they’ll spray it with plumes of water that are supposed to look like a wedding arch or the saber arch at a military wedding (thank-you, Wikipedia).

It’s rare to see or experience them in person, but water salutes for planes happen here and there to mark the retirement of a senior pilot or air traffic controller, the first or last flight of an airline to an airport, the first or last flight of a type of aircraft, etc.

The event is sometimes called a “shower of affection” and besides the reasons above, there are some secondary things that water salutes accomplish…

Of course, as with all things, sometimes water salutes go wrong…like in 2014, when a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Tampa International Airport sustained damage when, during a water salute, the right wing hit the water turret of the fire vehicle, which was parked too close to the taxiway (and now you know why they don’t do water salutes at TPA anymore).

Or the time in 2015, when a Virgin Atlantic plane, named “Beauty Queen,” was getting ready for its shower of affection and the fire tenders at Manchester Airport sprayed it with foam instead of water, which clogged up the engine and turbine blades.

Or late last year when they didn’t have good control of one water cannon so the water went flying everywhere, to the point where it caused the emergency side of the plane to deploy.

But when they DO go well, they’re a good thing to watch. And how you know why they happen. 🙂

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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