End of an era as last KLM Boeing 747 roars over St Maarten
Maho Beach might not be the Caribbean’s most idyllic beach but it’s not just the white sand tourists turn up for.
Located on St Maarten, the small beach is popular among plane spotters and self-confessed aviation geeks for its extremely close proximity to one of the world’s most scary runways.
Runway 10 at Princess Juliana International Airport is so short, that pilots must make the final approach just 30 metres over the heads of those sunbaking.
But one of the most incredible plane landings is no more, as Dutch airline KLM will no longer fly its Boeing 747 over Maho Beach.
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The landings of the KLM 747s over the beach at St. Maarten, and the accompanying visceral noise and wind blast, have been a favorite of spectators – whether in person or at home on YouTube – for years.
The jets have been flying to St Maarten and touching down on its astonishing beachside runway since 1990 but will now be swapped for the smaller Airbus A330 aircraft.
While the move is disappointing to plane-spotters, the change was actually made to shave four hours travel time off the route, reports ABC News.
Thrillseekers will still be able to get close to the action but should be warned about the serious risks associated with plane spotting here.
There are signs around the beach warning tourists that the blasts from airplanes taking off can cause injury or death.
“Jet blast of departing and arriving aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death,” the sign reads.
But that doesn’t stop hundreds of people from showing up at the beach each day. Not even two tourists getting injured in 2012 has deterred thrill-seeking beach-goers. (The tourists survived their injuries.) Many bikini-clad women and men in swimming trunks regularly hang on to the fence as the jets take off.