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Sint Maarten jet engine blast: Tourists’ views – BBC News

Image of people watching planes take off in Sint Maarten, taken at Maho BeachImage copyright
Gabriele Fontana

Image caption

Beachgoers in the Caribbean territory of Sint Maarten can walk up to the neighbouring airport fence as planes take off

The Caribbean territory of Sint Maarten has long been a hot spot for aviation enthusiasts.

Princess Juliana International Airport is just metres from the beach, giving beachgoers the chance to watch planes take off.

But a New Zealand woman died after being thrown backwards by the force of a jet engine.

BBC News website readers who have visited the island share what it is like to experience jet engine blasts overhead.

‘A thrill’

Rebecca Wood and her husband visited the island two years ago with their then 10-month-old baby.

“As a plane enthusiast, I was very excited to visit the famous Maho beach.

“We did watch the planes from the recommended safe distance, from which the force of the blast was enough to make me unsteady on my feet.”

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Dave Lappin, who visited with his family in 2016 intended to stand by the fence to experience the jet blast.

“I even devised a system of belts and ropes to help me hold onto the fence,” he said. “I also brought a bicycle helmet and work gloves to wear for protection.

“But after speaking to a neighbour with aviation experience, he said ‘Don’t do it!’ and I took his advice.”

Image copyright
BBC Travel Show

Image caption

There are prominent warning signs in the area instructing beachgoers not to stand near the fence

Danger signs

Gabriela Fontana, who is a member of an Italian plane spotting association, holidayed in Sint Maarten last April.

“I saw hundreds of people there, a lot of them up by the fence.”

Despite a warning sign reading “danger” by the fence, Gabriela said she noticed some people had climbed over.

Paul Mueller, from Houston, Texas, added: “There are signs all over the place that warn people not to try to cling to the fence during takeoffs but a lot of people do it anyway.”

“A few years ago, I saw a woman lose her grip and get blown across the busy road that separates the airport from the beach.

“She narrowly escaped smashing her head on a curb,” Mr Mueller continued.

‘A terrific attraction’

Tony from Birmingham, UK says the beach is not to blame.

He was in the area in January: “The beach and the island are fantastic, most welcoming. Maho Beach – also known as Jet Beach – is a terrific attraction.

“There are numerous signs warning of the risk. Do not blame the island, please.”

Image copyright
Gabriela Fontana

Image caption

Tourists clinging to the fence to prevent being swept away by jet engine air blasts

Michael Willcocks, from Wokingham, UK agrees: “I feel for the family but hope the Sint Maarten government does not change anything on the beach.”

“It’s a great place to visit if you ever get the chance. I was there in March this year with family. We sat on the wall next to the end of the runway near the bar and had plenty of jet wash.

“But people are crazy to try and stand behind a large jet when it powers up for take off – the signs do warn of the danger.”

‘That area should be closed’

However, some believe the danger posed means that area of the beach, frequented by aviation enthusiasts, should be closed down.

Image copyright
BBC/Google

“My experience in the US Air Force and being around jets gave me the know-how and common sense to stay away from that part of the beach,” Mario from Philadelphia, US said.

“That area should be closed and not be made into a tourist attraction, signs do not deter and the curious are always going to be there.

“It saddens me that something like this has happened.”

By the UGC and Social News team

Sint Maarten jet engine blast: Tourists’ views – BBC News

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