When visiting Sint Maarten, one must visit Sunset Beach which is located directly adjacent to the end of the Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) runway.
When Planes arrive, they fly super low directly over the beach. It is quite intimidating to have a 747 nearly land on your head! The landing plane creates a wind, which blows sand that stings the skin.
The true excitement comes when a plane takes off. It taxis out to the very end of the runway with the rear of the plane facing the beach. The planes sits idle until given the all-clear to take off and people take up their spots on the low wall, holding the airport chain link fence, or on the beach. The plane revs its engines for take off and the force of the wind created is unimaginable. Now the sand really kicks up, pelting the people on the beach whom grin and bear it or run for the water.
There is a sign warning people of the hazards of standing behind a departing plane. But what kind of sport would it be if there were no danger, huh?
The truly brave (stupid) people cross the busy road and hold onto the fence. With the power of the blast, they better have strong fingers or they risk being blown off in front of oncoming traffic.
It was really entertaining to watch all the hats fly off and land in the ocean, people being blown off the wall and tumbling on the beach, and people running to jump in the water.
I don’t know why they do it, but it was fun to watch from a safe distance. Too bad we didn’t see the big one take back off. I can only imagine the collateral damage!