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This is Heaven! Warbirds Descend on World’s Most Unique Beachside Runway

Warbirds Are Meant To Fly Low and Fast. At St. Barts They Can and Do!

The Bucket Air Show at Gustaf III Airport (SBH) on the island of Saint Barthelemy (St. Barts) is well known for being an opportunity to see warbirds flying low and fast only feet away from spectators. The airport does not fall under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) control and is therefore free of altitude restrictions. As far as the speed goes, well it’s a given that warbirds are meant to go fast, and fast they definitely do go at Saint Barthelemy. The airport itself is considered one of the scariest in the Caribbean if not the world, with an approach path that requires a just-above-stall-speed approach over a steep hill and then a rapid descent and flare in order to land on the short runway that ends on St. Jean beach after only 2,133 feet (650 meters). Did we mention that at the top of the hill there is a traffic circle that’s often choked with avgeeks shooting video and taking pictures as planes fly by just feet above their heads?

Photo Credit: Yachting World Magazine

In this particular HD video, shot during the 2015 edition of the Bucket Air Show, you’ll see two different Grumman F7F Tigercats, two North American B-25 Mitchells, a Grumman TBM-3E Avenger, a Vought FG-1D Corsair, an actual Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Zero (not a Tora Tora Tora mod of a T-6), and a Curtiss P-40K Warhawk fly passes over thrilled crowds and some beautiful blue Caribbean water. Several of the aircraft are based at Ellington Field near Houston in Texas with Texas Flying Legends. The sharp-eyed avgeeks among you will notice that the registration numbers on the aircraft have been painted on in the larger size lettering required by many Caribbean and foreign nations. Miss the FAA yet?

Bonus Video: HD cockpit, ground-to-air, and air-to-air footage shot during the 2011 airshow. Would have been cool to be on that sailboat near the end!

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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