Any lower and he’d qualify for a lawnmower attachment

This video shows an Embraer E190 regional jet landing at St. Maarten, an island in the Caribbean.  The airfield is notorious for the very low approach path over the beach, with thousands gathering every year to watch and film the planes coming in and departing.  There are many videos about it on YouTube.  (We’ve seen several of them in these pages before.)

This plane got a lot lower than most . . . so low, in fact, that it seems almost as if spectators could reach up and touched it with their fingers.  If a vehicle had been passing below its flight path, the wheels would probably have bounced off its roof. Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.

I’m glad I wasn’t on board – or on the road!



  1. I'd like to go see that.
    The aircraft landing at Patrick AFB, just south of Cocoa Beach, FL, didn't get that low, but they got low enough. It was pretty cool.
    – Charlie

  2. Patrick was definitely cool, especially when the U2 or the C5 came in.

    Best memories for low flying planes was living on Kwajalein. Hourly Cl41s. Nothing beats living on a runway with housing attached.

  3. Oh man! The pilot missed running the wheels over the top of the van setting there. When I was a kid, Dad worked at the local air patch. There was a road on the north side of the runway and if you timed it just right, sometimes you could go across that road and end up with tire tracks on the roof of your car.

  4. Judy,
    the silver van was moving away from the plight path, probably so it wouldn't get tagged. Who knows, it might have originally been the pilot's tire target, considering the unusually low approach for that strip. I suspect that it would all be on the vehicle driver if contact occurred, due to the location.

    Must be a very short strip, if the pilots are THAT focused on using the first couple of feet of tarmac.

  5. That's at Princess Juliana International. The runway is squeezed into the spot where it's located and even with a displaced threshold, the approach is quite low relative to the beach. There are clips on You Tube that show people getting blown around when aircraft firewall the throttles to launch. High bypass turbofans move a lot of air. Even with he warning signs on the beach fence, I'm sure people are killed there when they are blown around. Some of the clips show people holding onto the fence when jets spool up their engines to launch.

    I remember the first time I saw a C-5 in flight. I was standing quarterdeck watch on Courtney and the AC was approaching NAS Norfolk. There used to be a bomb dump at the northern end of the NAS and they were flying stuff to the Israelis to resupply them after the Yom Kippur war. There were dozens of 141s coming in with a few 5s interspersed.

  6. > Nothing beats living on a runway with housing attached.

    Mather AFB in California had the enlisted housing near the end of the runway. During the Vietnam era strings of B-52s would take off at all hours. It was sort of like that scene in "The Blues Brothers":

    Jake: "How often does that train go by?"
    Elwood: "So often you'll never notice."

    My Mom used to set the table with all the plates and dishes on folded towels because the planes shook the house so hard things would walk off tables and counters.

  7. I've seen a bunch of clips of that approach on Youtube. Every time, I think of the Gimli Glider.

    Due to an unlikely chain of screwups, an Air Canada 767 ran out of fuel in mid-flight, over nothing much but trees. The plane not only lost the engines, it lost most of its control systems and instruments, leaving the flight crew wrestling a descending brick while half-blind.

    The pilot decided to try for an "abandoned" military runway at Gimli. By an equally unlikely chain of luck, they were able to find the runway and successfully line the descending plane up for a landing. And then the co-pilot saw the runway was full of people…

    Due to the attitude of the aircraft the pilot couldn't see that. The co-pilot said nothing. And by then it was too late to do anything anyway…

    A lot of people thought the co-pilot's decision was cold-blooded, but their responsibility was for their passengers, not the people on the ground

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *