Wednesday, January 2, 2008

TRAVELHYPE: Buzzed by Jumbo Jets

If you've ever thought you lived too close to an airport, and/or have a thirst for uncommon adventures, then check this out. In St. Maarten (in the Netherlands Antilles), the publicly-accessible Maho Beach lies just a few meters from the end of the Princess Juliana International Airport runway (see for yourself on the satellite photo). That fact, combined with the relatively short length of the runway itself, results in very low passes over the beach right before landing.

Nevertheless, or perhaps because of that fact, this beach has become a somewhat popular destination for people who like to watch airplanes in action. KLM and Air France serve this airport with the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340, respectively, and many other airlines fly widebodies into TNCM (or SXM, as it's known to tourists) as well. Occasionally they come in a little low and nearly kill some people, however, as seen in this video:

A little detective work suggests that this video was shot on 2006-07-02, and depicts the much-lower-than-usual landing of a KLM B747-400 registered PH-BFG (still pictures of this event are on

Here's another view of this remarkable landing, as seen from the cockpit. This one appears to be more normal:

Then there are the takeoffs, when those with something to prove attempt to hang on to the fence just behind the aircraft while they're running their engines at full throttle!

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