Measuring a mere 7,500 feet, and surrounded by hills, Saint Maarten has one of the world’s most challenging runways for a heavy aircraft and one of the best spotting locations for Avgeeks!
Join the captain onboard a flight to this serene tropical island. Get ready for an exciting landing in this 6-minute video production.
By now most Avgeeks know about Maho Beach. It is the most famous plane spotting location in the world. Plane spotting is almost a national sport in Saint Maarten. Hundreds of people gather to view the most spectacular approach of the day – the landing of a Boeing 747 that left Amsterdam 8 hours earlier. The plane is a beautiful sky blue color, with gleaming white wings.
The total distance from Amsterdam to Juliana International Airport in Saint Maarten is almost 5,000 miles. This flight’s cockpit crew are Captain Tim ten Velde, and his first officer, Michel Vat. The Captain checks the route map app on his iPad. His GPS locates the plane on a map. Then he checks his iPad approach app to find the best method of approach to this difficult runway. There is a RNAV approach available that helps pilots find the airport in conditions of poor visibility.
On approach, the cockpit crew hears from the Juliana Airport approach control. A person in the tower lets them know the wind speed, altimeter setting, temperature, and expected approach. The video is unique in a few ways. One, St. Maarten is amazing. Two, KLM is the only airline that flies the Boeing 747 into the field (only for another two months as they begin to phase out the Queen of the Skies). Lastly, the pilots demonstrate the professionalism and skill required to operate the jumbo jet into a relatively small field safely.