At the west end of St. Maarten’ Princess Juliana International Airport’s (SXM) Runway 10/28 sits a tiny sliver of beach, Maho Beach, a tourist draw for sun bathers and airplane geeks to lay out on the sand as arriving aircraft as low as 25 feet cross over them on their way in, and blow sand all over them as they depart.
A popular tourist attraction on Maho Beach is standing along the airport’s fence line and holding on behind the jet-blast of commercial jet airliners as they take off, from ‘small’ regional jets all the way up to jumbo jets. While this tourist attraction seems fun for many, and happens on a daily basis, it is quite dangerous as jet blast from aircraft have been known to flip cars over, much less the minuscule weight of a human.
On the 4th of April, 2012, as JetBlue flight 796, an Airbus A320-232, lined up on Runway 10 for its 4 hour 38 minute flight north to Boston thrill seekers lined up on the fence and held on as the aircraft powered up its two IAE V2527-A5 engines and a common occurrence was caught on video … the sight of a person losing their grip and being thrown back into the roadway barrier.
All along the fence line at SXM are fences warning of the dangers of jet blast, and while people tend to not be hurt on a daily basis, the dangers are very real. When an aircraft powers up its engines those standing behind it are at risk from not only being blown away, but also debris being thrown up by engines powerful enough to lift a jet airplane into the sky.
So … fair warning … if you love airplanes, Maho Beach may be the place to be, but beware of the perils of seeking thrills that put you in the hospital or even worse.
Below is the video, released by LiveLeak.com, of a woman being blown off the fence and thrown into a concrete barrier headfirst.
Happy Flying … as long as it isn’t flying off a fence head first into a wall!