A thrill-seeking teen on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten was blown away – literally – when she was catapulted backward while standing on a beach next to an airport runway as a plane took off.
Tourists and locals at the half-Dutch/half-French island’s Maho Beach, which is famous for its close proximity to Princess Juliana International Airport, regularly seek a cheap thrill by standing as close as possible to the runway as planes fly over the beach, taking off and landing. The beach and the 7,000-foot runway are separated by a thin, two-lane highway.
Tourists with beers and cameras often hold tight to a nearby fence as the jet engines that can easily produce winds of more than 100 mph whiz by. One teenage girl was no match for the roaring engine and went airborne — her head slamming against concrete — as a JetBlue plane took off.
The video shows the teen with her arms flailing and hair going wild in the wind. She quickly goes airborne and crashes, head-first, into a low wall. The girl, whose name and age is unknown, is reportedly OK after the incident, but she has a deep gash in her head. Another teen tourist reportedly broke his leg.
The incident, which was caught on video and posted to YouTube, is just the latest reminder of why signs warning people about the dangers are posted at the end of runway. The signs note that jet blasts can cause injury or death.
But that hasn’t stopped the Sunset Bar and Grill, which sits near the end of the runway, from writing the day’s flight schedule on a surfboard every morning and broadcasting air traffic control instead of music. The “Jet Blast” is even celebrated with its own shot at the Sunset Bar.
Records aren’t kept about how many people have been injured but, as the young woman found out, planes aren’t the only things that take off at Maho Beach.