PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Twenty-three-and-a-half years spent with Southwest, piloting 14,000 flights, and delivering 1.5 million passengers safely to their destination. Capt. Mike Vaught's career has racked up some impressive numbers.

Tuesday was his last commercial flight.

[WATCH: Phoenix area pilot arrives home on final flight]

The law mandates commercial pilots retire at 65. Wednesday is Vaught's birthday.

The moment his plane touched down, fire trucks met Capt. Vaught with a water salute and a crowd of friends and neighbors were there cheering him on.

Even the whole gate applauded as he exited the plane.

"It's a privilege, it really is," said Vaught, reminiscing on all the people he's flown around the country over the years.

His final homecoming was emotional for the veteran pilot and his wife, who was with him on the flight.

"It really was. The last few minutes hit me like, 'This might make me cry," said Shannon Vaught, the pilot's wife.

"It was exciting. It was a little nerve-wracking just because it was the last one, but I had a great first officer. I had great support with our family and our friends, so it was just a lot of fun," said Mike.

But you can't keep this Valley native and former Air Force pilot out of the sky. Mike says he has some non-commercial jobs already lined up.

"I'll continue to do it till I get tired of it, which I don't expect to be any time soon because I really enjoy flying," he said.


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