Keith Rosenkranz
Pilot, Keith Rosenkranz, charted a flight to Hawaii with 112 friends and family to celebrate his retirement from flying with Delta Air Lines. (Photo: Keith Rosenkranz)

Delta Air Lines pilot, Keith Rosenkranz, went all out to commemorate his retirement as he brought along many of his friends and family on a special 24-hour trip to Hawaii.

The retirement party brought an end to the captain's 33-year tenure with the major American airline.

It total, 112 people made the trip to the island on Feb.28 via a Delta A330-900neo, with Rosenkranz and three other pilots overseeing the journey which began at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Invited guests included Delta staff, school and college friends, neighbours from Texas as well as colleagues from Rosenkranz' time in the Air Force.

The journey included a stop at Los Angeles International Airport along the way and here Rosenkranz received a water cannon salute, making him just the second pilot to receive the honour in nearly a decade. This is as it had become less frequent due to Los Angeles' restrictions over water.

LAX held a special place in Rosenkranz' heart from a young age as his high school was located right next to the airport's north runway, aspiring him to dream of flying airplanes one day. On each occasion the now retired captain would take off from LAX during his three decades with Delta, he would dip his plane's wing in the direction of his former school.

Over the course of his commercial flying career, the ex-captain made trips all over the globe, including right through Europe, across the Far East as well as South America.

The retirement trip took 16 months to put in motion, with Rosenkranz first coming up with the idea back in October 2022. The thinking behind it was that other Delta staff could not celebrate their retirements to a large extent in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they missed out on a memorable final journey.

Rosenkranz explained to Business Insider: "Going back to when we were dealing with COVID, a lot of the pilots didn't get a final flight that they wanted. We canceled so many flights to Europe. One of my buddies, all he could fly was Atlanta to Orlando and back. He got one ticket for his wife, and that was it."

It cost the 64-year-old a hefty fee to put together the retirement trip, as even after negotiating a lower price due to him being a Delta staff member, he still ended up forking out roughly a year's salary on the charter.

However, according to Rosenkranz it was all worth it due to how special the moment was. He said: "You can't put a price on something that was that big. You think about being able to go out that way and take all your family and friends on a whirlwind journey. You don't want to be the richest man in the graveyard one day."

The former pilot made the most of his retirement trip as he and his wife, Colette, renewed their wedding vows.

Remarkably, Rosenkranz' final journey fell on the 23-year anniversary of his final flight on a F-16 fighter jet. During his time in the Air Force, he went out on 30 combat missions in the Gulf War.

In 1999, he released a memoir based on his time with the Air Force, titled: 'Vipers in the Storm: Diary of a Gulf War Fighter Pilot'. The motivation to do so came after a Vietnam War veteran had a moving conversation with him during his early years at Delta.

A cut-out of Rosenkranz from the front of his memoir was made by one of his friends for the retirement trip.

The 64-year-old certainly seems to have carried out his life goals since departing his job at Safeway supermarket. His charter to Hawaii will take some beating from other pilots when they decide to call time on their career.