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Pilot uses retirement flight to do incredibly rare stunt with passengers on board

Pilot uses retirement flight to do incredibly rare stunt with passengers on board

He carried out a classic aviation tradition

A pilot carried out a rare stunt on his final flight before retiring, with passengers onboard to experience it.

The highly-skilled manoeuvre took place shortly after take off, as Captain Christian Pokorski made his last ever journey of his 33-year career.

He also received a water cannon salute while departing from the gate and taxiing to the runway.

The Lufthansa captain was flying an Airbus A380 and took off from LAX airport.

Setting off on the 10+ hour trip back to Munich, Germany, the plane can be seen slightly swinging to one side, then swinging the other, before stabilising and continuing its journey.

While it would be expected that those travelling on the aircraft were informed of the manoeuvre, someone onboard shared a video of it from the inside and claimed in the comments: "I was a passenger, we didn't know anything, was an amazing surprise."

But what's the reason behind the stunt, and why do pilots do it on their final flight?

The pilot carried out the rare stunt after taking off.

It turns out that, as with many aviation traditions, the wing salute comes from some old military rituals.

Similar to the old hand to the forehead salute, it acts as a sign of respect, but it also signals the end of something.

A wing salute - or 'wing wave' - is actually a regular occurrence at military airbases when a pilot successfully finishes a drill.

But this tradition has seemingly carried over to commercial flights where, along with a water cannon salute, it signals a pilot's last hurrah.

Captured from an angle not too far from the runway, the stunt looks very impressive and has excited viewers.

Many were incredibly fascinated by the wing salute, and shared their happiness in the comments.

One user said: What better way to retire than retiring with the Queen of the skies, the A380!"

The wing salute is a popular aviation tradition.

Another put: "Originally saw this live on another LAX based channel, but you had a much better view of it!!"

A third commented: "These moments are rare to come by."

Someone else explained: "Every retiring pilot does that while leaving for the last time."

If you're worried about this happening on you next flight then fear not as some airlines ban this type of retirement celebration.

Though it is fitting end to a long career for the captain and I hope I can be in the plane to experience the 'wing wave' one day.

Featured Image Credit: AirplaneSpotter/YouTube

Topics: Travel, YouTube