Dangerous airports: Sint Maarten
5 Mar 2012 09:26:00
Those of you who have been to Bali know the airplanes arriving at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport approach the runway over a public beach. It is a spectacular sight to be able to come so close to an actual Boeing 747 just about to land.
It is not unique in the world though, there is even an airport where the runway is closer to the beach: the Juliana International Airport at Sint Maarten. Sint Maarten is the Dutch part of a small island located in the Caribbean. The total size of the island is about one tenth of Singapore and it is also divided into a French and a Dutch part. It is a popular tourist destination. The Dutch airport, Juliana International airport handles 1,5 million passengers a year and is able to handle the big Boeing 747 Jumbo. Due to land shortage the runway is with 2180 meters quite short and barely enough for heavy jet planes. It is also squeezed between the sea and hills making take-off and landing at Juliana International Airport one of the most challenging in the world.
Because of the short runway a landing aircraft has to approach the runway flying extremely low, right over the Maho Beach. The close proximity to the Maho beach has made this airport a very popular spot for planespotters making spectacular pictures of arriving Jumbo jets. There are countless pictures like these, of huge airplanes flying 10 meters above relaxing tourists and often they have been thought of as fake. Be not mistaken, these pictures are real. Still don't believe it, have a look at the amazing youtube video.