Watching jetliners approach and touch down only some meters away and also watching them take off has become one of St. Maarten's major tourist attractions.

The Princess Juliana International Airport on Sint Maarten is a busy hub for air travel, connecting to America and Europe with constant flights and servicing the surrounding islands as well.

Planes are REALLY that close

The runway starts directly at Maho Beach and is only separated by a narrow road (leading to a residential neighborhood) from sand and the Caribbean Sea. The location gained its notoriety through countless Youtube videos - showing dare-devils hanging on to the fence of the airport, while a starting jet is sandblasting them. There are countless warning signs prohibiting the practice. Occasionally, these stunts go wrong; on July 13th, 2017 a lady underestimated the blast (or overestimated her strength) and was blown into the concrete barriers of the road, where she was fataly injured.

Only ten meters (or thirty feet) away and across the small road, nothing could have happened: a person overwhelmed by the blast would just been blown into the sand and at worst, into the water... which is still crazy enough for thrill seekers.

The St. Maarten airport will always be unique to plane spotters. Hearing and feeling the rumble of a starting jet will remind everyone that these giant flying machines are a remarkable achievement of our civilization. Let's hope that the recent tragedy was the last of its kind and that the local administration will find a way that the public can continue enjoying the 'jet blast' while not risking limb or life.

Contrary to claims in the media, the Princess Juliana International Airport is not a dangerous or difficult airport for pilots: the final approach is over open water without obstacles and the prevailing trade winds are usually blowing right against the landing plane.