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Princess Juliana Airport
image This is a pretty amazing picture, and it screams 'Photoshop!' After all, where in the world would planes really land that close to sunbathers on a beach? It looks like the plane is landing right on top of them. Well, the place is Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten. And the airplanes really do come in that close to the beach. A collection of shots of planes landing at Princess Juliana is circulating as a powerpoint file via email. Jozee V sent the file along to me (Thanks, Jozee!). At first I couldn't believe that the shots were real, but after a little research I was convinced. The thumbnail shot was taken by the photographer Justin Cederholm. You can see more shots of planes landing at Princess Juliana Airport here, and here, and here. And if you don't believe this is a real airport, then check out it's website. Trust me, it's real. But personally I think those people sunbathing there are crazy. It seems to me like it would be a good way to shatter your eardrums.
Categories: Photos, Places
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 20, 2004
Comments (97)
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Posted by peconic  on  Mon Dec 12, 2005  at  10:36 AM
The pics are as real as it gets. I have been visiting the island yearly for 8 years now and always spend a couple of afternoons at that beach. I do enjoy "hanging onto the fence" for the Air France and Corsair 747 take-offs. Although it is quite a rush, it does not lift you off the ground like some people claim.
Posted by bc  on  Thu Dec 29, 2005  at  03:44 PM
Dear lord, so much arguing about if this is real or not! I just happened to stumble upon this site. I think it's been laid to rest fairly well, but it does in fact happen several times a day, and while people seemed concerned about the noise, it was always the sandstorm that really bothered me. Sometimes tourists get caught off guard and get blasted, I do it just for fun. As long as we're arguing about seemingly unsafe airport practices.... anyone know about Saba, a nearby island that boasts the worlds shortest commercial runway (or something like that...) ? I live there and the landing/stalling out of the sky still freaks me out. I'll try and get a seemingly unbelievable picture of it up on here soon for people to argue about.
Posted by Nate  in  Hells Gate, Saba  on  Thu Jan 05, 2006  at  03:44 PM
I have been there and the picture is very much real. The noise is heard on the takeoffs not the landings. And the planes taking off will lift you off the ground because I saw I have seen it role a tourist into the water.
Posted by mark092238059  on  Mon Jan 16, 2006  at  04:05 PM
Just got back from St. Maarten. Not only does the occasional sunbather accidently get "caught" in the backwash from the planes, but some poeple actually go there to experience it. The photo is taken from the bar Sunset Beach Club, which features a very large deck overlooking the beach/landing area, and the Club actually posts arrival times of the jumbos. The landing planes don't create all that much disturbance, but departing planes turn around with their tail ends maybe 100 yards from that beach, and the takeoffs DO produce huge gusts. People go right up to the chainlink fence and hang on just to experience the blast. Takes all kinds, eh?
Posted by madpeters  on  Sun Feb 05, 2006  at  02:51 PM
slight correction to your post...
It's NOT "the bar Sunset Beach Club"...
The name is Sunset Beach Bar...
Posted by Brian  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  12:12 PM
We will be there in:
9 weeks, 6 days, (69 days) 21h 49m 01s
Posted by Brian  on  Mon Feb 06, 2006  at  12:14 PM
Why are people so upset that some don't believe the pics? It's not like there are not thousands of fake pics and stories circulating on the Internet. Of course people are going to doubt. If you know it's true, then be happy that you know the truth and don't be so bitchy about it. You must admit that it is hard to believe! If it's real then there's no reason to get all uppity.
Posted by robin.g  in  NYC USA  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  10:12 AM
Its runway 9 (heading east, or 90 degrees) on the Isle of St Maarten.
Posted by Silent Otto  in  Earth  on  Mon Apr 03, 2006  at  11:50 AM
It's 100% real.

Been to St. Maarten and saw it myself (though they usually aren't THAT low, but it does happen every now and then, according to the locals). It's a HUGE tourist attraction there, watching the 747's, etc, land.

The pic was taken on Maho Beach. There are beach bars nearby, but the only reason people are in that area is for one of these extra low sightings (jet fumes don't mix well with rum). Princess Juliana airport is infamous for it, but I'll tell you, watching them take off, where it looks like they are just going to crash into homes and mountains is even scarier.
Posted by LearningConformity  in  NY  on  Wed Apr 12, 2006  at  06:04 AM
Check out the video at the following link if you're still a skeptic....
Posted by joeruger  in  Georgia  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  09:39 AM
all i have to say
Posted by alex perry  on  Wed May 17, 2006  at  02:39 PM
Posted by alex perry  on  Wed May 17, 2006  at  02:40 PM

and a few more...
Posted by Aaron  on  Sat Jul 08, 2006  at  08:19 PM
This video says it all.I took this video when we visited St.Maarten in May 2006
Posted by Frozen1  in  New Jersey  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  03:50 PM
I am going to this island on my 18th birthday(next year). I have dreamt of going here because i'm a student pilot training to be a delta airlines pilot. I own the dvd from They are all real the photos . And just a quick question.For those of you who've been there how often do planes land there in a 10 minute range? also how busy is the traffic, like how often is there activity there?and also , how big do the planes look in reality even the tiny ones because you really can't tell with these pictures. All comments accepted smile except if your skeptical and are trying to bash me because I know this island exists being my folks went there before I was born.
Posted by philip  in  new york  on  Wed Aug 16, 2006  at  08:38 PM
Philip. The day we were there it was a mix of small island hoppers and big jets. 757-737.
It is a constant stream of air traffic.(awsome)
Anyone into aviation needs to go there. I'm trying to link the video I made again. We just got back and looking to go again soon. Later.
Posted by steve  on  Thu Aug 17, 2006  at  04:48 PM
Posted by steve  on  Thu Aug 17, 2006  at  04:50 PM
Is there any possibility for Airbus A380's to land and takeoff to/from this airport?
Posted by Alejandro  in  Caracas, Venezuela  on  Tue Oct 03, 2006  at  07:27 PM
No way an A380 could land there. Even though the runway is 7070' long, it has displaced thresholds on both ends (only departing aircraft can use this portion of the pavement). So the actual landing distance available is only 6742'.
Posted by Keith  in  Denver, CO  on  Fri Oct 20, 2006  at  11:45 AM
The Air France Boeing 747 approach looks very low. The jumbo jet is heavy and pilots were just following the glide slope. They are now flying VFR! I don't see any problem with the picture?
Posted by Jay Lee Long  in  Pasadena, Calif., U.S.A.  on  Fri Dec 15, 2006  at  11:02 PM
The problem with the Photo is that there is no ground effect on the water from the wings.

The photo is valid in accept that the photo has been digitally manipulated to bring the aircraft closer to the beach.

Check this one out (linked below) from the same site. It is more obvious. Follow the shadow line on the vertical stabilizer to the ground. Draw a line from the shadow cast, by the horizonal stabilizers, upon the vertical stabilizer to the beach. Notice that the shadow of aircraft does not commence where it should be. The aircraft has been brought down closer to the ground that was the case in the original photo.

Case closed.
Posted by Bill  on  Sat Dec 16, 2006  at  12:05 PM
Posted by Mark  on  Sun Dec 17, 2006  at  03:51 AM
I think we agree that the Photographs are real, check out Google Earth for Saint Martins, You will see that Prinses Juliana Airport has a 7800 Ft runway... good size considering aloing with the smaller airport of '' Grand Case'' with a 3600 ft runway.
Ive been there many times during my time as a Matalot and hung off the fence at the end of the run way.... drunk sailors will try anything... if you dont hold on you do get blown away but need to be real carfull... there the road barriers at your back... best to actually be at the top of the beach and enjoy the thrill of being blown in to the sea by the jet blast.... cooooooollll
Posted by Muzzo  in  UK  on  Mon Aug 13, 2007  at  08:22 AM
I hope that by now, all of the doubters here have been persuaded by enough eye-witnesses to know that these photos are real. I have seen it myself and it does happen there.

My post is correct some comments about the 747 landing gear. The reason that the outer gear bogies hang like they do has nothing to do with smooth landing etc. The answer comes from a friend of mine who worked on the Boeing design team for this aircraft and is very simple. In order for this aircraft to not damage runways, it needed four main gear legs each with four wheeled bogies to spread the weight. This was the first time that such a heavy aircraft had been designed with such a configuration. The outer legs were put in the only place possible but the main wing spar runs through the gear bay and cannot be compromised. So as space was tight, the gear was designed to hang as seen in the photo, so that when retracted it fits into the bay snug up against the spar. The wing of the 747 has the most sweep of any commercial aircraft, which is why this feature is not usually necessary in most other aircraft. Airbus copied the design on the A330/A340 as it does provide other benefits on landing as previously stated. Boeing's answer to a similar wieght problem on the 777-300LR is to use 6 wheeled bogies. Airbus uses an extra centre line bogie on the A340.

Finally, if you think that is low, look at this
Posted by Graham  in  Ohio  on  Tue Jan 15, 2008  at  10:57 AM
Firstly, the Jet engines are on idle on decent so there is not much (relatively) coming out of them..

this is a database with a huge amount of photos from Princess Juliana Airport at St Marteens in the Netherlands.. so if you can't believe that then, I'm sorry for you
Posted by Webby  in  Au  on  Sun Apr 13, 2008  at  07:21 AM
bugger.. link didn't work (just go to click on photos and do a search for Philipsburg / St. Maarten - Princess Juliana (SXM / TNCM)
Posted by Webby  in  Au  on  Sun Apr 13, 2008  at  07:26 AM
I'm sorry for those of you who do not believe that this is real. I have been to this location, I have taken photos there and taken video. This aircraft is on a normal glide path, making a perfectly normal approach. It happens 10-20 times a day and if you don't believe it, just go there. Then you will understand it is all true. All your claims about shadows and water movement are bogus. Furthermore, you will have a great vacation.
Posted by Graham  in  Ohio  on  Sun Apr 13, 2008  at  08:13 AM
that is real! ive been there, the reason people aren't looking up b/c they are used to seeing it! go mavs!
Posted by kyle  in  moscow  on  Sat May 03, 2008  at  09:37 PM
I can't believe that after 4.5 years, this is still a discussion???
Yes, it's real...
Posted by PBS  in  NJ & NY & SXM  on  Mon Aug 11, 2008  at  04:10 PM
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