When Airplanes Get Too Close

Maho Beach in 1985

Imagine lying on the beach, a good book in one hand, drink in another, feeling the cool breeze in your hair when suddenly, that breeze gets stronger and stronger and is accompanied by an unbearable loud noise that you think will shatter the windows of the nearby shacks. As you look up, you’re face to belly with a commercial airliner. After a few seconds, it’s all over. Fiction? We’ve found a few places where it’s not. Before you scream ‘shopped’, wait for the videos…

In case of a beach landing, use your blanket as a beach towel

The beach in these first two images is famous Maho Beach, adjacent to Princess Juliana International Airport on Saint Martin or St. Maarten, the eastern Caribbean island’s Dutch part. Planes fly by so close that sun bathers seem to be able to reach out their hand and touch them – Maho Beach therefore attracts scores of plane spotters every day.

Says beachgoer Drew about the experience:

“I’ve been to that beach… and there’s no way that you wouldn’t’ve known about it, since there are signs clearly posted… in fact, the “road” through the beach is actually two concrete trenches for your tires so that you don’t get blown away by low flying aircraft… It is still pretty cool, though.”

Image: Jj04

A current sign reads:

“Jet blast of departing and arriving aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death.” Er, thanks for the warning.


Beach-goer Christine adds:

“I have been to that beach, and been tanning when the planes come in. It is more cool then actually scary. It is one of those [instances where] the picture looks worse than it actually is but the picture is totally real!”

If you say so, Christine. We’re still skeptical about the entertainment value and want to see for ourselves – here’s a video of various landings (turn down the volume!):

After Hurricane Omar hit on October 16, 2008, many local businesses were destroyed but most beach shacks and restaurants popular with plane spotters have reopened since. The beach, however, was reduced to boulders but is still popular with windsurfers and skimboarders because of the semi-large waves caused by the jet blasts of planes taking off. It is so strong, in fact, that people standing on the beach can get blown into the water.


Moving elsewhere, here’s a video of people who do close encounters of the plane kind for entertainment.

The pilot of a small plane is trying to land on top of a moving RV, the world’s shortest runway, at 60 miles an hour! After the successful landing, one wonders how the plane will get down again.

Image: Delta Mike

And here’s an image of Iberia Airbus A-340 on October 10th, 2007 when it almost caused a major accident as it was landing at Quito International Airport in Ecuador. Whoever lives in that house surely must’ve gotten the shock of their lives!