Water Salute, A Tradition in Aviation

Water Salute, a traditional and ceremonious event in aviation. What is it? When it occurs? Come and let’s go deeper.

As in every field where people are, aviation has its own souls and it is one of the major tradition which feeds that soul.

It is a special moment and ceremony in aviation. It’s like a wedding arch. It occurs in a proper part on the aerodrome maybe in the apron or taxiway or even in the runway. Generally even number of firefighting trucks are lined up and an airplane passes between them. While this movement, the firefighting vehicles spray plumes of water to the airplane. As a result, the airplane is saluted. It is really worth of watching according to me.

 It’s a special moment and a ceremony, then when it occurs?

It occurs in some circumstances and their common point is being all special and unique moments. For example, when an airline captain pilot or an air traffic controller retires. Water salute is arranged by aerodrome authority to honor them.

When an airline company adds a new aircraft to the fleet, water salute occurs to celebrate and to show the best and safe wishes.

Below a scene from a water salute at Auckland Airport / New Zealand.

Commonly, water salute happens on the first and the last flight of the airline company to a destination airport or to a new destination.

It was so iconic that when the Concorde flew its last flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport, blue, white and red coloured plumes were used in water salute ceremony.

In addition, water salute may be arranged to celebrate an anniversary of the company. For example, 10th year of operation or 50th year at the base airport.

Safety First !

On the other hand, there can be some unexpected and accidental incidents while water saluting. In 2014, a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 in Tampa International Airport sustained damage during water salute . The right wing hit the water turret of the fire vehicle which was parked too close to the taxiway (They don’t do that ceramony at TPA anymore because of this incident). So here comes the motto in aviation “SAFETY FIRST” ?


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