Wild footage shows St Maarten sunbathers blown away by jet engine washout

Travel

Tourists get more than they bargained for at Maho Beach, ravaged by jet wash. Photo/Curt Myers, YouTube; Airplane pictures

Incredible footage shows the moment an Embraer plane landed on an island, leaving beachgoers gasping.

A short strip of sand is all that separates Maho Beach on the Caribbean island of St Maarten and its Princess Juliana International Airport.

So every time a plane heads for the airstrip, it almost always ends with screams of fear and awe from those below.

The planes come from above the water and fly just above the beach; they are about 20m above people’s heads, but still make them feel the need to duck.

Images shared on Twitter show how close the planes are to beachgoers. Or, maybe the reverse with people seen playing a game of chicken to get the perfect view and shot.

The slow-motion clip shows holidaymakers with their phones pointed skyward as they watch the Embraer 190 from the Empress of London City land.

They can be seen making just enough space for the plane.

“Yeah, that was me approaching,” one woman said in response to a “shocked” gif. “As for takeoff, it was like getting on a rocket.”

“Whoever built this ocean put it too close to this airport,” another added.

Maho Beach is a popular place where people gather and watch departing and approaching planes.

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When the planes depart, they do so in the same direction, meaning those on the beach are often blown away by engine blast if they don’t swerve away.

Despite warnings, tourists continue to visit St Martin to experience the thrill of low-flying jets.  Photo/Wikimedia Commons
Despite warnings, tourists continue to visit St Martin to experience the thrill of low-flying jets. Photo/Wikimedia Commons

If you search “St Maarten jet blast” on YouTube you will get many images.

“I literally thought people were [expletive] mad to do this!” tourist Tennille told GrindTV via Jukin Media. “I was beside myself, especially here, because it was a 747! The jet stream amazes people.”

“It was the weirdest feeling; the jet stream was blowing people off the beach into the water,” Tennille said.

She said people were hanging on to the fence so they wouldn’t fly away.

In 2017, a New Zealand woman died after an explosion from a plane threw her into a retaining wall.

The 57-year-old was standing at a fence that separates Maho Beach and the track.

At the time of the incident, the unidentified woman had clung to the fence with several others, according to a Sint Maarten police statement.

The police statement acknowledged that watching planes take off and land at the airport is “well known around the world as a major tourist attraction”, but noted that it is extremely dangerous.

Airport and local officials have posted signs along the airport’s chain-link fence, warning them of the dangers of standing there while a plane takes off, and officers patrol the area during peak hours.

Despite this, the region remains a huge asset for thrill seekers and aviation enthusiasts.

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