Volgograd Airport’s flydubai “Spielberg” tribute wins anna.aero “Arch of Triumph”

Three airports gaining new flydubai services in the airline’s scythe-like swoop on Russia and Ukraine all entered anna.aero’s new weekly “Arch of Triumph” competition for the best route-launch Fire Truck Water Arch (FTWA). In the event, Volgograd Airport secured 30.5 out of a maximum possible of 40 points for its Close-Encounters-themed arch for flydubai. Therefore, Port Columbus holds on to its season’s best pole position with its score of 30.8 (see end of article for rankings).

flydubai Dubai to Volgograd 17 September

Volgograd’s “Close-Encounters”-themed arch for flydubai

Out of this world: Volgograd’s “Close-Encounters”-themed arch for flydubai, the work of a great director; Spielberg’s film wasn’t bad either.

Marc: 8.3 Well you can’t fault this FTWA for drama or atmosphere. The night-time arrival, the near full moon, the time-elapsed exposure to capture the aircraft’s movement…something that Tchaikovsky himself would have been proud of. However, he would not have been happy with the excessive “Tobleroning” going on…but that’s my only criticism of this super arch.

Paul: 7.7 A chillingly-close re-enactment of Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters.” I’m so excited about the plans Volgograd Airport also has to produce more movie-themed water arches based on “Titanic” and “The Talented Mr Ripley.”

Ralph: 7.5 Wow! Our first night-time FTWA from Volgograd Airport is a gem. Excellent symmetry, and personally I like a bit of Tobleroning. Nice alignment of the trucks but points deducted for having two different types of fire truck. Bonus point for managing to get the moon in as well.

Steve: 7.0 An interesting moonlit night shot with motion blur, not quite an arch, but a definite triangle.

Total – A winning 30.5!!!!!

Belavia Minsk to Budapest 19 September

Belavia Minsk to Budapest 19 September water cannon salute

Extra marks for unmistakable placement – only Budapest has a control tower with no middle bit.

Marc: 5.4 Halve the distance between the tenders, take the wind into account and you would have had a half decent FTWA. My suggested excuse — blame the Follow-Me vehicle.

Paul: 6.8 The deliberate use of the cross-wind to create a rich, sauce-like spay is a technique known as “goulashing” – it’s not to everyone’s tastes, neither is the Danube-wide gap between the two arches, but I like the impression it gives that the stacked clouds are also queuing up behind  Belavia to pass through the salute.

Ralph: 3.3 Maybe this photo was taken a second or two too soon, but there is a distinct lack or arch over the arriving Belavia aircraft. The big puddle in front of the left-hand truck suggests there were wind issues. And how come Budapest Airport’s fire trucks are yellow rather than the more traditional red?

Steve: 6.5 Our BUDs at Budapest will BEG for a better score on the inauguration of MSQ-BUD-BEG. Unfortunately I cannot meet in the middle and neither can the fire trucks.

Total – 22.0

flydubai Dubai to Odessa 20 September

flydubai Dubai to Odessa 20 September water cannon salute

The firefighter’s presence here represents an ingestion hazard in breach of several Ukrainian air safety statutes.

Marc: 3.4 There was me thinking an arch, whether it is made out of water or brick, is a structure. This is FTWA, would be about as useful as using jelly to construct Rome’s Coliseum.

Paul: 3.6 This could have been really good. The firefighter directing the monitor on the truck looks like he was sculpturing a totally unique flat-top “leaping dolphin” arch. If he had succeeded it would have never been done before.

Ralph: 2.6 This just looks like a little localised fog, rather than a welcoming salute. Only one truck is (barely) visible. Poor show from Odessa Airport.

Steve: 5.5 flydubai’s 737-800 appears to have received a dowsing on arrival at Odessa International Airport by the left fire truck. Sadly, the right side component is not visible to judge.

Total – 15.1

Wizz Air Budapest to Moscow Vnukovo 23 September

Wizz Air Budapest to Moscow Vnukovo 23 September water cannon salute

Moscow Vnukovo’s “arch”. Not quite up to the airport’s best red carpet tradtions (inset).

Marc: 3.6 Like the introduction of goal-line technology in football, the use of coloured dyes for FTWAs (as suggested recently by one of my fellow judges) has been the cause of mass debate in the world of new route inaugurals for some time now. For those people wanting to keep FTWAs ‘pure’, just take a look at this image and join the campaign for the introduction of coloured water dyes to improve fairness in the game. Poor judging decisions resulting from the lack of use of dyes has caused many airport marketing departments to have to reduce their “networking lunches” from four to three hours as a result of budgetary cuts imposed by nasty finance directors.

Paul: 2.5 This arch was seemingly created by a firefighter lying on his bed directing his monitor through the fire station window. However, while it’s not an honour guard in the airport’s famous traditions, I have the greatest respect for the firefighters of Moscow Vnukovo, and I am sure that in other applications it is excellent method of reducing incident response times.

Ralph: 3.5 What a grey day! This FTWA would have benefited from some coloured water to make things visible, but from what can be seen the alignment looks well off, and we can only see one fire truck.

Steve: 4.5 I am not certain about what caused the imbalance in Moscow Vnukovo’s double arch attempt – unfortunately I have given a low score for what looks like an attempt to soak the captain flying the Hungarian flag from the cockpit window.

Total – 14.1

Wizz Air Rome Ciampino to Chisinau 24 September

Wizz Air Rome Ciampino to Chisinau International Airport water cannon salute

Chisinau: Another giant duty free-size Toblerone.

Marc: 6.3 My Mum and Dad love Toblerone. I love chilled Toblerone straight from the fridge. But geometrically-shaped chocolate has no place on the aprons of the world’s airports – and this has been reflected in my score.

Paul: 6.5 The next time someone says ‘Toblerone’ I’m going to jump off a cliff. However, the real skill in winning this contest is getting a “leaping dolphin” curved arch, so you can’t get maximum points for these symmetrical efforts. I do like the trucks’ proud advertisement of ‘Chisinau International Airport Fire & Rescue Service.’ It’s nice to know they are there for our safety first and foremost.

Ralph: 7.8 Very good efforts from Chisinau Airport. Nice truck alignment (and identical trucks), and helped by not much apparent wind. Symmetry is good through the ‘arch’ does appear to be suffering from a bit of Tobleroning.

Steve: 7.5 although this is a triangular arch, I like the smart and symmetrical dual setup by trucks F2 and F1.

Total – 28.1

BinterCanarias Tenerife Sur to El Hierro 21 September

Binter Canarias arrival El Hierro water cannon salute

Commended: An all too rare salute to an essential turboprop service.

Marc: 5.6 The crew of the tender on the left on this picture has got it all right for me (although perhaps they could have been a bit closer to the aircraft), however the crew on the right seems to have just turned up at the last minute, not thought about the angles, distances or artistry involved in creating at perfect FTWA. Perhaps they were busy in the station catching the last few minutes of the Spanish version of Oprah?

Paul: 7.0 I like this. It’s got a casualness which suits the laid-backness of the Canaries. Notice that the curtain of spray is kept within the sweep of the arches – not everyone can do that. It’s also a fact that not enough salutes are laid on for turboprop services.

Ralph: 4.0 Not sure if this is down to the wind or poor truck alignment, but it looks like the right-hand truck could definitely do with getting in a bit closer, and we can’t even see the left-hand truck. Nice background scenery though.

Steve: 7.0 Bonus points for the scenic backdrop and the rainbow, both elements make up for lost marks for the sizeable gap in the middle and height imbalance.

Total – 23.6

flydubai Dubai to Krasnodar 20 September

flydubai arriving in Krasnodar September 20 water cannon salute

Completing flydubai’s scythe-like movement on Russia and Ukraine. But where are the Krasnodar Airport fire trucks??

Marc: 8.7 Just like waiting at a bus stop for an hour, and then two come along at the same time, the drama of the night-time FTWA has been repeated again for a flydubai inaugural, this time in Krasnodar. Couple this with a near perfect pair of “leaping dolphins” and you have my best score so far. If we could have only just seen those tenders in the picture, this would have scored even higher.

Paul: 6.5 Controversially this is a cruciform “Roman Cross” arch and not the Russian Orthodox Church three bar cross which needs at least three fire trucks in execution. I love 737-800s, it’s nice to make the effort to do this at night, but I’d like to see the fire trucks so I am not as ecstatic as the other judges.

Ralph: 6.8 You wait ages for the first night-time FTWA and then two come along in the same week, and involving the same airline (which I guess tells you something about their aircraft utilisation). Excellent symmetry, but the fact that we can’t see the Krasnodar fire trucks results in deductions.

Steve: 7.5 By night, the flood lit arch contrasts well against the night sky.  A slight crossover at the apex, but a good effort by Krasnodar.

Total – 29.5

Cambodia Angkor Air Siem Reap to Guangzhou 26 September

Cambodia Angkor Air – Siem Reap to Guangzhou Airport water cannon salute

Chinese Airports rarely win Cake of the Week, so Guangzhou Airport’s efforts, including putting four different directors on the ramp for this arch, indicate a clear ambition to do well in the “Arch of Triumph” contest.

Marc: 8.4 These boys know how to deliver precision a FTWA. What is also impressive, given the lack of water on the apron, this wasn’t practised before-hand…it was just a natural, freestyle arch. I’m really just deducting points for lack of atmosphere, as well as slight imbalance in the arch. Top-drawer FTWAing.

Paul: 7.0 China is highly competitive in business and sport, but has only won anna.aero Cake of Week a handful of times. So I applaud the effort, enthusiasm, and the route, but I think this arch is ‘OK’ and that’s about the best thing I can say.

Ralph: 6.2 Nice effort here from Guangzhou Airport. Nice tight fire truck alignment, though the angle of water release appears to be significantly different resulting in a non-central arch crossover point.

Steve: 6.8 Two different fire trucks, two different arches. This FTWA takes me back to my mathematics classes; this is a typical scalene triangle, one “with all sides of different lengths”.

Total – 28.4

RAK Airways Ras Al Khaimah to Riyadh 25 September

RAK Airways – Ras Al Khaimah to Riyadh September 25 water cannon salute

Er, very refreshing ear-washing technique. But, d’oh!!

Marc: 1.7 Frankly, if the crews at Riyadh Airport put that little effort into their FTWAs, why should I put any energy into writing something witty about this effort. Rubbish.

Paul: 3.5 One word sums up all the problems that Riyadh Airport is experiencing here: desalination. Fresh water created from the world’s oceans includes contaminants such as boron, algal toxins, and endocrine disrupters and we all know what that means: fluffy fire truck water arches. My advice is to get a C17 Globemaster and fly some Evian in.

Ralph: 2.2 Oh dear. What happened here? Serious imbalance in the two halves of the ‘arch’. And no sign of either fire truck in the photo.

Steve: 1.5 An interesting attempt. Unfortunately this is far from an arc, let down by the spray effect from the closer of the two trucks.

Total – 8.9

TransAsia Airways Taipei to Tokyo Narita 26 September

TransAsia Taipei to Tokyo Narita water cannon salute

Taipei’s rare reverse-action pushback through the water arch is marred by the mystery inaction of the fourth fire truck.

Marc: 6.7 Like watching to a football match between Man United and Liverpool, which has been hyped-up for a month before by SKY…only for it to be a boring 0-0…is a bit like having four tenders in attendance for an FTWA and then only having 75% delivering the goods. Such a shame, as it could have been the score to beat in 2013. I have actually taken off points here due to my own disappointment.

Paul: 6.5 Why oh why is the fourth truck not taking part? Imagine Lady Gaga turning up to shoot the epic “Telephone” video, but then just leaning against a wall checking her eBay App while Beyoncé did all the jumping around. That’s what we have here.

Ralph: 8.3 That’s how you do it! A near perfect arch, with a four truck salute (though only three are active at the moment this photo was taken).

Steve: 8.2 A textbook arch! (Almost.) The fourth truck was not ‘just-in- time’ and the late, or even failed delivery, has taken away from the precision and symmetry of a potentially top-scoring FTWA.

Total – 29.7

British Airways London Heathrow to Chengdu 22 September

British Airways – CTU

We've heard of catching the red-eye before...but not the panda-eye!

Marc: 5.5 This is very similar to the push-back FTWA at TPE, with only three tenders contributing to what could have, should have, been a potential world-class display of firepersonship. BA clearly knew what the deal was, with its logo jet being used on the inaugural to help secure some big scores. A little bird told me that the CAFO responsible has since been seen flipping burgers in the Departures Lounge McDonalds as a result of this FTWA disaster.

Paul: 6.1 British Airways “panda-ing” to my fluffy inner core with its cute 777 paint job will not wash with me. The flag carrier’s third mainline China destination is very important, and I can see that the Chengdu Airport fire department turned out in some numbers (are there three or four truck here?). But it’s an average-ish score, not the birth of an incredible rare species of water arch.

Ralph: 5.7 Panda in a shower. Nice photographic emphasis on the panda’s ‘nose’ but the lopsided alignment (two trucks on the left, and one on the right –  and none visible), counts against this effort.

Steve: 4.7 Emerging from the mist and fog in its natural habitat, this endangered species, a 777-Panda, appears to be happy with its free wash from Chengdu Airport.

Total – 22.0

Arch of Triumph 2013 Winners Season Rankings:

Port Columbus, American Airlines LAX launch 27 August: 30.8

Volgograd Airport flydubai 17 September: 30.5

Rzeszów Airport eurolot Paris & Rome: 26.2

Busan Airport Peach Osaka to Kansai 13 September: 17.4


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