Have you ever seen an airplane being sprayed water at the airport and wonder what it is and why?
Let’s find out what a Water Cannon Salute is. Water Salute typically involves two firefighting rigs or more spraying arcs of water over an arriving or departing flight. It is said to be a sign of respect, honour and gratitude. It is also a touching airport tradition to honor military veterans, foreign dignitaries and new airline service.
The spray of water on planes which can last for about two minutes can consume as much as 3,000 gallons of water.
Following the aviation industry practices, water cannon salutes can be traced back to the maritime industry. In the 19th and 20th centuries, as ships were launched on maiden voyages and upon arrival into their first port, fireboats would mark the occasion with an arc of water.
Reasons Why A Plane Gets Water Cannon Salute.
- Arrival of a new aircraft
- Arrival of a new airline company and first time operation
- For a new airplane operating commercially for the first time
- If the Captain of the airplane or an ATC member is retiring
- If the airline is closing down the route and its the last operation of an airline from that particular airport.
The water cannon salute at airports is now well established all over the world, like most salutes, the water cannon salute is just a mark of respect.
A typical example was when LaGuardia Airport gave the then-president-elect Donald Trump a water cannon salute back in 2016. That was when Mr Trump had to fly in his own Boeing 757 rather than Air Force One. LaGuardia’s gesture was widely noted because Mr Trump had recently mentioned LaGuardia when describing his country’s airports as “third world.”
While there are protocols and unwritten guidelines, there are no hard and fast rules surrounding water cannon salutes. Unlike the Delta salute back in the 1990s, water cannon salutes are no longer ad hoc spur of the moment events. They have to be applied for and approved.
Have you seen or been in a plane as it passed under a water cannon salute? Post a comment and let us know about it.