A girl who was plane spotting at Maho Beach on the Caribbean Island of St. Maarten was blown away by a jet blast when she stood dangerously close to the runway. The entire episode was captured on a now-viral YouTube video that acts as a harsh reminder that tourists should heed local warnings.
St Maarten's Maho Bay beach sits right at the end of the main runway of Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of the island. Though it boasts dazzling turquoise waters and great snorkeling opportunities, the beach is most famous as one of the only places in the world where aircraft can be viewed in their flight path just outside the end of the runway.
Arriving aircraft must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of Runway 10 due to its short runway length of just 2,180 meters (7,152 feet). As such, planes must approach at minimal altitude just over the beach. Daily arrivals and departures are displayed on boards at most bars and restaurants on the beach and one, the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill, even broadcasts the radio transmissions between pilots and the airport's control tower.
Despite the reputed difficulties in approaching the runway, there have been no records of major incidents at the airport.
Just outside the airport gate, however, there is a danger of people standing on the edge of the beach being blown away.
A sign warns: "Jet blast of departing and arriving aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death."
That, however, didn't stop thrill-seeking tourists from standing by the gate and hanging onto the fence to endure hurricane-force winds.
The St. Maarten Island Time reports that the two French tourists seen in the viral video were injured last Wednesday by the jet blast of the JetBlue aircraft. The male reportedly suffered a broken leg, while the young female suffered a deep gash to her head. Both were taken to a local hospital.