By Hal Bryan – 7 February 2007
Princess Juliana International Airport sits at the edge of Maho beach on the southwest side of the island of Sint Maarten / St. Martin. The island itself is considered the smallest land mass that is divided by two sovereign nations – in this case, the Netherlands, and France.
Built in 1942 as a military base, the airport was converted for civilian use in 1943, and serves a number of islands in the region. In Flight Simulator X, Princess Juliana airport (ID: TNCM) is rendered in high-detail, using satellite imagery and custom hand-placed objects, making for some spectacular views.The distance from the approach end of runway 09 to the beach itself might be described as “ridiculous”. To an airplane lover, thanks to the unmatched views of landing and departing airline traffic, it would be described as “perfect”. Unfortunately, it’s now described by the ICAO as “dangerously close”, so there are plans in place to lengthen the runway and displace the threshhold. Until they do, however, Maho beach remains one of the best locations in the world for dedicated planespotters.
For more information on the airport itself, click here.For an especially scenic route, take a smaller general avation aircraft and fly from Princess Juliana and head southeast, following the coastline the “long way” around to Grand Case airport (TFFG) on the French side of the island. And don’t forget to try the “Caribbean Landing” mission – arrive in style in a Bombardier CRJ-700.
For an amazing and varied collection of photos from “The Best Beach in the World” have a look at the archives at Airliners.net.