The island of Sint Maarten (aka St Martin) in the Caribbean is a popular tourist destination and stepping stone to the rest of the Leeward Islands, boasting beautiful beaches, pristine water — and one of the most insane airports known to man. With its runway apron mere feet from the popular Maho Beach, airliners — including massive 747s — coming in for a landing at Princess Juliana International Airport are so low over sunbathers’ heads that you’d think they could reach out and grab the landing gear as they flare for touchdown. (See a satellite view of this St Maarten airport approach here.)
While these 10 images may look like something cooked up in some Hollywood CGI factory, they’re the real deal — no Photoshop fakery or trickery here. These are, in fact, actual photos taken by people equally amazed by just how up close and personal you can get with the incoming planes.
And while the landings over the beach look impressive, it’s the departures that many pilots think are really hairy — the takeoffs are steep, and with a sharp turn to avoid the mountains past the runway.
American Airlines Boeing 757-223
Air France Airbus A340-313X
KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines 747
United Airlines Airbus A320
KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747‑400
American Airlines Boeing 757
Air France Airbus A340
Continental Boeing 757-224
JetBlue Airbus A320
by steve conry
KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines DC-10