One of the best places in the world to watch planes land is on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. St. Martin is a 35 square mile area island with mountains in the center and beautiful white sand beaches at the water’s edge. The northern half of the island is owned by France and called Saint Martin. The south side is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch call it Sint Maarten. This beautiful island is served by Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on the Dutch side. Princess Juliana is without a doubt the best place in the world to watch airplanes land and the best place to set up for fantastic pictures of the world’s largest airliners landing is the sunset Beach Bar and Grill on Maho Beach.
Boeing 747’s and the Airbus 380 cross Maho Beach at approximately 50 feet over sunbathers and swimmers for some fantastic aviation photo opportunities. The landing runway, runway 10, is only 7,150 feet long and the touchdown area is only a short distance from the ocean waves. On the departure end of the runway is Pic Paradis, a 1,390 feet high mountain that departing aircraft must avoid with a sharp right turn after takeoff. Water on one end and mountains on the other end of this short runway is what places Princess Juliana airport on the list of the world’s most dangerous or extreme airports. Pictures and video from this spot often surprise viewers with how close people are to these flying behemoths crossing the beach. These pictures are recognizable across the world. The other shocking images are of tourist and sunbathers hanging on the airport fence just behind departing jets as pilots hold the brakes and throttle up the engines for the short run down the runway. Tourists hold on for dear life while being pounded by hot blast from jet engines. With the larger airliners this can or will lift them off the ground as they cling to the fence. Unfortunately this can be a very dangerous sport. A few misfortunate fence riders have been severely injured by jet blast. If you make it to St. Martin make sure you spend some time on Maho Beach and don’t forget your camera.
US Airways Boeing 757 landing St martin