PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A crash-rescue truck from Phoenix Fire Department Station 19 rolled out on a special mission Thursday; honoring the memory of American Airlines pilot Michael Johnston.
"This is in honor of a pilot who has given his career and his life to flying," said
The crew prepared to shoot a water arch over the plane carrying Johnston's body. Once in place they practice their aim, wanting to make sure they get everything right.
"We do this for retiring pilots, in this case, it happens to be a pilot who died in flight, and it's to honor him coming in. This man has given that much time to his profession, the safety of the passengers has always been his concern, he deserves this," said
Each truck has a water cannon that can shoot 100 feet in the air over the arriving plane.
The plane slowly moved under the arch; it's soaked by the heavy streams of water. From inside the cab, it's a very impressive sight, and you can feel the weight of the moment.
"Looked great guys, great job," said
As the fire engines pulled away, the crew observed more than 100 airline employees who gathered at the base of the plane. As Johnston's body emerged from the plane, one by one they all stepped forward and left flowers. All under the eyes of passengers watching from the terminal.
Finally, a group of uniformed American Airlines pilots took their colleague and walked with him out of view.