Low flying jets. How is this not dangerous?

Check out these pics from the St Maarten “airport.” I’m assuming they are not doctored but I’ve never been there so I don’t know if this is how the airline traffic is.
My question is, provided the photos are genuine, how is it that the people underneath these low-flying planes are not swept up by a huge gust of wind after the aircraft passes over them? Isn’t that what would happen if you were directly underneath a plane flying that low to the ground.
The noise alone would have to be deafening.
I love airplanes but I can’t imagine having a relaxing day at the beach with these babies flying right over my head all day.

St Maarten

Telephoto lenses? :slight_smile:

(The link is broken, but you can dig around to find the photos.)

But I think Metacom is right, at least partly. The long lenses that they’re using to take the photos have a large depth-of-field, so they tend to make everything in focus. This means you can’t tell whether the plan is actually over the beach or whether it is some distance away. You also can’t really tell how low it is.

Hmmm. Check out this picture from your site. Judging from the sign at the bar and the people with cameras, it looks like the approach to the airstrip might actually be somewhat of a tourist attraction. It has to be somewhat thrilling to be a hundred feet or so below a landing jet.

Dangerous? Probably not very, unless the pilots screw up bigtime, in which case the airlines have more to worry about than a couple of beachgoers.

I had to search the site to find what I think you’re talking about…

Is it this? Photo

It’s a number of photos from the site. I did a search of Air France Airlines with a keyword of “St Maarten”

The photo you are asking about An Arky is not the best example I’ve seen on the site. Some appear so low that I think I’d crap my pants to be underneath. I just can’t imagine the roar. I’ve often sat out on the top floor of the parking garage at DTW airport and watched the planes take off and land and even from a distance my ears start ringing.

Anyone remember that scene in “Pushing Tin” where Billy Bob Thorton and John Cusack are on the runway as a plane lands and after it passes over they are swept up and tossed about like the evening paper. Ok, so it was a movie but is there any truth to that scene? If so, why are the beachgoers on St Maarten not being bandied about?

If I go to St. Maarten, I KNOW where I’ll be spending at least one afternoon!!!

That’d be damn cool.

To the OP, I’d guess from one of the photos, that the runway is just to the right of the photo. In that case, the height AGL, would be about right for an approach by a heavy airliner. I used to work just outside of the Manchester NH (MHT) airport, and the road around the Airport often had planes flying not a whole lot higher than that. I loved spending lunch watching takeoffs and landings. I was often surrounded by other airplane freaks.

As for the comfort of the beach, you’ll notice that it’s pretty clear under the actual approach lane, and the beach is set up specifically for the freaks ( :smiley: ) that like that sort of thing. I wonder what the turbulance would be like standing/sitting under that approach though!


Here 's one that shows just how close the end of the runway is to the beach. I’ve been fascinated by that runway since my parents visited St. Maarten back in the '70s and brought back photos of of their plane doing practice takeoffs. Apparently the 727 they flew in on was at the time the largest jet ever to land at that airport.

One thing I notice is that we’re not seeing a big cloud of spray and sand where the plane is flying. So it doesn’t appear that there’s enough turbulence to, say, fling a human around like a kite. Bet it’s noisy, though.

Another discussion of this, with more links.

My gf has been there, and the pics are accurate. She has seen people “get close” (there may be better fences/etc now, she was there a few years ago) and get knocked over.

Parking along Aviation Blvd. just on the east end of LAX runways to watch the landing planes go over used to be popular. I think it has been banned for several years because of the traffic hazard.

The the AA plane in Finale’s post look to be just a minute or so away from touchdown.

The sound of an airplane–even a big jet–coming in for a landing is not very loud.

Takeoffs are noisy, as they require gaining altitude, of course. The loudest “roar” is from the reverse thrust after touchdown.

Heh - I was about to make an exact same comment - about Manchester, England.

I use to regularly play golf at a course located at the south end of Sea-Tac Airport. When the planes were landing from the south it wasn’t to bad, the plane would almost glide over with very little noise and a few seconds later the wind would whirl about, the bigger the airplane, the more wind. A trick was to try to hit a ball into the whirling wind, sometimes it would help, other times the ball would come flying back at you.

When planes were taking off to the south it was a different story. Every minute or so an airplane would go roaring overhead making it almost impossible to hit a ball. If you ball was in the air when the plane flew over the ball would be slammed straight into the ground. And about every 10 minutes or so you hear the familiar bonging noise of a ball hitting one of the many landing light towers that ran through the course.

One incident at this course stands out to me. The group I was with was waiting to tee off when a 747 pulled up to the south end of a runway only a couple hundred yards from us. 2 of use made like airplanes, running around with our arms outstretched and crashing into various objects and falling on the ground. A few holes later a course employee drove up in a golf cart and wanted to know if we were making gestures like airplanes crashing. With all of us being Boeing employees, we denied everything claiming it must have been another group, we would never do something like that. He told us that a couple of folks on an airplane became very upset over the display and the airplane had to return to the terminal. And the airline was not to happy about it. This was many years before 9-11, we probably would have had the FBI looking for us if we tried something like that now.

Back in the mid-to-late 70’s we would sometimes go hang out at a park on the Potomac River right at the end of one of the runways at Reagan/National Airport in Washington, D.C. (for all I know it’s still there but may have been closed after 9/11). If you stood near the fence facing the runway ( your back to the incoming planes) while planes were landing on it, they came in right over your head just like the opening in the first Star Wars movie. It was way cool. It felt like you could reach up and touch the bottom of the plane with a not-so-very-long stick.


If you like that airport, you’d LOVE Yokota Air Base in Japan, not far from Tokyo. The airfield is in the middle of the base, and in order to go from one side of the base to the other, you have to take a road that goes across the runway :smiley:

Of course, the road crossings are near either end of the runway, where a plane is less likely to be, and the Air Force SPs block off the road crossings for when planes are taking off or landing. Still, 'tis a thrill to be waiting to cross the road when a C5A Galaxy transport (AKA “Aluminum Overcast”) comes in for a landing. Makes the ground shake. :smiley:

:smack: Duh. I forgot about that. I wonder how much it would cost me for a trip there. I’d go just for that experience alone. *Screw the oceanic paradise.

*There’s sharks in there anway, so I’m not going in there!

Sounds like Gibraltar - the road in from Spain crosses the (public airport) runway.

I used to go there for birthday picnics. Dunno whether it was closed, but it sure was a lot of fun.