Saturday, April 14, 2012

Princess Juliana International Airport: Where taking off aircraft blow away Beachers

Awhile ago, I wrote about a unique airport which does not have a metaled runway - instead the aircraft lands on the sandy beach of the Baara Island. Today, I am writing about yet another airport where taking off airports blow away the beachers.

Landing of giant aircraft at the Princess Juliana International Airport right above the heads of the beachers at Maho Beach
The Princess Juliana International Airport is this unique airport, like the Baara Island Beach airport. Despite its very short runway, which is otherwise unsuitable for bigger aircraft, the architects of the airport have designed it in such a way to utilize the short runway space by incorporating the sea as part of the line-up for the runway for large passenger aircraft.

Princess Juliana International Airport - Simpson Bay, Saint Martin Island [aerial photo courtesy: Google Earth]
The airport is located just off the Maho Beach on the beautiful Saint Martin Island on the northeastern Caribbean, some 300 kilometers east of Peurto Rico. The island with a total area of some 87 square kilometers is divided between France and the Netherlands, with France taking the 53 square kilometers chucnk of the island in the north, and the remaining 34 kilometers in the south belongs to the Netherlands. And on this Dutch area is the Princess Juliana International Airport is located.

To the west of the runway is the open sea, while to the east of the runway is part of the Simpson Bay and then there are mountains that restricted the length of the runway
Being a tourist attraction, the air activity to the Saint Martin Island is enormous that includes large and wide bodied aircraft like the Boeing 747 Jumbos and Airbus A340s. Since due to the restricting factors, sea to the west and mountains to the east, the runway could not be stretched beyond 2,180 meters/7,152 ft, which is too small for bigger aircraft. Therefore, the aircraft landing on the airport approach very low level flying over the sea, and just meters above the beachers on the Maho Beach before touching down on the runway

The island is served by many major airlines that includes large jet aircrafts, including Boeing 747s, Airbus A340s, and McDonnell Douglas MD-11s carrying tourists from across the world on a daily basis. The short length of the main runway at Princess Juliana International Airport, and its position between a large hill and a beach causes some spectacular approaches. This airport is famous for its short landing strip. That is only 2,180 meters/7,152 ft, which is barely enough for heavy jets. Because of this, the planes approach the island flying extremely low, right over Maho Beach.

And it this rarity that attracts tourist from around the world to beach on the Maho Beach, wait for a landing aircraft, which with their noisy engines, thunder over their heads and land on the airport. Tourists and beachers take photographs while the aircraft passes over their heads. 

I came across many videos on YouTube regarding the landing and take off of the jets on the airport and I am sharing a few herein under:

The landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport is awesome and frightening - if you are not attentive of the approaching aircraft which approaches amid the roar of the sea waves, you are likely to be taken completely off guard as the deafening sound of the engines and powerful winds the aircraft brings along with it almost shake the narrow strip of the Maho Beach - and this is followed by a huge aircraft and its silhouette over you - something of a lifetime experience, experienced nowhere else in the world.

But more than the landing, it is the take off that is centre of attraction for the tourists and the beachers. When the aircraft aligns itself for the takeoff, the aircraft gets readied just a few dozens meters away from the beach fence. While a majority of the tourists and beachers stay on the other side of the road bifurcating the beach and the fence of the airport, a few daring ones go as close to the fence and 'enjoy' the full of the thrust engines of the aircraft:

Recently, two enthusiasts, a girl and a man dared to face the full thrust of the aircraft engines. Unfortunately, they could not hold the fence firmly and the girl was aggressively blown away. The girl hit the pavement of the road and head on and had a severe head injury. Watch the video below:

If you are planning to go to the Caribbeans and happen to be visiting the Saint Martin Island, do insist of getting a window seat and enjoy the landing, while not forgetting to make a movie. Then do go on the the Maho Beach and while enjoying the warm sun, see aircraft flying overhead. And if you happen to be an adventurer, go close to the the fence hold firmly the fence and have the 'pleasure' and experience of the full thrust of the taking off aircraft engines - do not forget to wear protective headgear in case you are blown away just the like the girl in the video above.

Tags: Travel. Places, Beach, Maho Beach, Princess Julian International Airport, Saint Martin Island, Simpson Bay, Pirates of the Caribbean,  

Videos Courtesy: