Delta Air Lines Bankruptcy Emergence, Part 14: We Are Landing in Salt Lake City — Aren’t We?!?

Note: Nine years ago yesterday, Delta Air Lines formally emerged from bankruptcy protection; and this article is the fourteenth of a series of articles which I first wrote nine years ago today.

 e are landing in Salt Lake City — aren’t we?!?

Of course we are!

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence “fly by” Salt Lake City

As the runway closes in, it appears that the airplane is about the land. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

It was strange to approach the airport in Salt Lake City and see the runway below, but it seemed too high to land on the runway in time. This is because the pilots were doing what is known as a “fly-by”. The aircraft was as low as 300 feet above the runway as it flew by to the delight of hundreds of spectators comprising of Delta Air Lines employees, people representing the media, and politicians, all of whom awaited with anticipation the arrival of Delta Air Lines flight 9998 from Atlanta.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence “fly by” Salt Lake City

The airplane was approximately 100 feet off of the ground as it was doing its “fly by” by the pilots — an absolutely cool moment — before the airplane ascended once again to go around the airport and prepare for a landing. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

What most people did not know about during the “fly-by” were the sounds of “Terrain Low! Terrain Low!” that loudly bellowed from an automated voice in the cockpit. If I recall correctly, this may have been because an “override” had not been reset from the flight around Atlanta on the previous day, but that was not a problem. Speaking for myself, my confidence in the captain and co-pilot was unwaivering, as it always is on Delta Air Lines flights. In fact, the “fly-by”, complete with the unexpected warnings from the automated system in the cockpit, added an additional level of excitement.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

In the foreground are a few of the eight vehicles that escorted ship 638 to the hangar in the background on the left. Between are two airport emergency vehicles preparing to give a water cannon salute dedicated to Delta Air Lines flight 9998. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

After circling around the airport for the final approach and finally landing on the runway, we slowed down, almost to a stop. I then noticed a contingent of no fewer than eight vehicles in formation, escorting the aircraft to the eager crowd awaiting at the hangar. Before we arrived at the hangar, the aircraft turned left to continue following the official escort. Two chartreuse-green airport emergency fire trucks, one on each side, acted as water cannons to salute the aircraft with a shower of water to dedicate the successful emergence of Delta Air Lines from bankruptcy.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

A Salt Lake City Airport fire vehicle begins the water cannon salute for ship 638. This photograph was taken just as the vehicle began to shoot the water. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

The excitement in the crowd reached a crescendo worthy of celebrity status.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Seen through the water freshly dripping from the water cannon salute is a crowd ready to give ship 638 a warm and friendly welcome to Salt Lake City. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

As was demonstrated in Atlanta, the employees in Salt Lake City were unabashedly proud of their airline.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Immediately after deplaning ship 638, executives of Delta Air Lines prepare to be warmly greeted by the enthusiastic crowd at a hangar at the airport in Salt Lake City. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Not Included in the Original Article

Four photographs — which have never before been published or posted via the Internet until now — are included in this article; and those photographs are of a unique view as seen by the pilots as they conduct a “fly by” for the crowds on the ground. I have plenty of additional photographs which I can include in a future article of what was an incredible final 30 minutes or so of this memorable flight…

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence pilots Salt Lake City

This pilot whips out his camera, as he is experiencing his first water cannon salute. I believe to this day that he was as giddy as I was at that moment. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

…and — even more fun — is the fact that the pilots were just like me: we all felt like kids in a candy store.

The runway at Salt Lake City is in view as we were about to land — or so I thought. The pilots were preparing to perform a “fly by” for the crowds on the ground. All photographs ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

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