mkeflyer717
Posts: 388
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A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:52 pm

I never exactly thought I would get around to making a trip report for this, but I have a little extra time on my hands now that I’m home for the holidays. This trip was from quite a while back in March during my spring break when I was on the Celebrity Summit’s Eastern Caribbean cruise. My mom flew down from MKE, then we both flew MCO-SJU on B6, but I’ve decided the focus of this report to be exclusively my experience at SXM. Time permitting I may in the future make a report covering the flights to/from Puerto Rico and the rest of the cruise.

The cruise began in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the first port of call was St. Maarten. This was my second time to the island, however my first time to the famous Maho Beach. On my past Royal Caribbean cruise we were on an excursion the day we stopped at St. Maarten and were unable to make a visit to SXM. Passing up that opportunity, I knew I had to get back and make every effort to fulfill my spotting dream!  One of the main reasons behind our cruise selection this time around, other than trying out a cruise line we hadn’t been on before, was that this particular cruise stopped in St. Maarten on a Sunday which meant we’d be there on one of the busiest days of the week for SXM. I’ve heard from various sources that there are significantly less flights to SXM during the weekdays so I made sure we didn’t choose a cruise that stopped there on one of those less busy days.
Upon docking at the port in Philipsburg, we wasted no time in disembarking the ship for we wanted to maximize the time we would have spotting. We conveniently found a cab right outside the port gates and made our way across the island towards the airport. The only risk in doing this was making sure we got back to the ship at the end of the day. Through excursions you are guaranteed to not be left behind, but taking a cab like we did places that responsibility on us.
It wasn’t a problem or anything for us, but we just had to pay attention to time, since we knew we would be driving back to port at a somewhat busier time of the day when traffic might have been backed up.


Driving past the terminal entrance… almost to the beach!
We arrived at Maho Beach around 10AM and at that early time it was pretty much deserted…



The famous Sunset Bar & Grill where we spent the next 6 hours.
Initially I checked out the area before things would certainly pick up and get crowded before long once more and more people left the ships.


Very quiet, but I knew that would be rather short lived.


Ahh The famous Danger sign… sure wouldn’t keep me from getting close to all the action.
I also quickly realized that the weather had changed dramatically since we left port. Skies were rapidly clouding up on the westside of the island, thanks to the strong prevailing easterly flow over the mountains.


Eventually the rain came down, and I mean really came down. Typical tropical soaker for sure! In the meantime my mom and I just mingled with a few other guests at the bar while we waited for the weather to improve. Met some very interesting people during this time, some were regulars to the area and others first-timers like us.


The board where they write all the day’s flights. Unfortunately chalk doesn’t last long in the rain, and the flights simply vanished before my eyes! I think they were rewritten again later in the afternoon when the rain moved out.
For about the first hour or so I was one of the only crazy persons who actually ran out in the pouring rain to get as close as possible to the arriving/departing aircraft, and let me say, the combination of rain and sand in the jet blast made for an even more painful encounter! The heat from the engines of the departing aircraft felt nice since the cloudy skies and precip kept the temperatures below my tropical expectations at first. Eventually a few other brave souls stepped away from shelter and joined me on the sand. At that point we all hoped the weather would clear up. I did not want my entire SXM visit to be a washout. Even if it was though I knew I would enjoy myself… after all I had finally made it to one of my top destinations.


One of the many private jets that arrived that afternoon

Finally some of the bigger stuff started show up…



The lowest approach during my stay... at least for jet aircraft.










A beauty!





Quick turnaround on this Insel aircraft. I remember the blast from this jet being one of the best.



Soo many 757s!

Oh no, where’s the winglet?  Wink


Faceoff! Who’s going to win?  Wink I was surprised to see 3 aircraft on an active runway all at once.


My view of this UA A320


And my mother’s view of me taking a picture of the same UA A320 lol


The weather did get better, and the crowds got larger. A group of us onlookers (I’m in the bright green shirt) getting taking on the jetblast from a 757. I find it amusing how there were like equal amounts of people taking pictures of planes as there were taking pictures of those watching the planes close up. Everyone’s reactions were hilarious. Some people were soo dramatic but it was all fun. The best was watching everyone’s belongings (mostly hats) blow into the water.. as if they didn’t know that would happen. The only real danger I saw in all of this was the occasional small rock/stone that would get picked up by the blast and strike your skin.


Me again spotting this Us 757 over the threshold.


Thanks to my mom for capturing these awesome shots of me! I did not know she was even taking them, but I’m glad she did.

By this time, several of the aircraft that I had watched fly directly over my head a short time before were now making their way back to the U.S. Most of the pilots made clearly visible waves. One of the Jetblue pilots thought he was cooler than the traditional wave so he expressed the “rock-on” sign. Lol I just wonder how much fun it has got to be for these pilots to fly in and out of SXM. I mean on landing they nearly skim our heads, then on takeoff they get to intentionally sand blast hundreds of onlookers. What an adrenaline rush!




Standing behind the CO 757 just prior to its takeoff roll down runway 9.


Basically this picture sums up what it’s like right in the middle of all the action while getting ready to be struck by the strong winds. The worst part probably has to be all the sand that gets into your eyes, but it’s not really that bad. Most of the people at the beach with us that afternoon were from our same cruise ship. Even though it was only about a day into the cruise I still recognized a few of the faces. The cruise lines don’t run any of their own excursions to Maho Beach (which surprises me), but by word of mouth, plenty of adventurous people make it there anyways. One would think they could somehow organize busses from the port to Maho, provide a lunch in coordination with the Sunset bar & grill, and make it an official excursion. The demand is certainly there. On the ship that night many people were talking about their experiences at Maho Beach. Celebrity also includes a rather thorough segment of Maho Beach in their trip summary videos available for purchase at the end of the trip.

I made some good conversation with people during the hours spent running all around the beach that day including this guy who’s UND shirt caught my eye. Being from ERAU I only thought it was appropriate to make a few comments haha  Wink (don’t worry everything was in good humor, I don’t intend on upsetting any UND students/alumni on here). A lot of people even eventually began coming to me as a reliable source for information because the word had somehow spread across the beach that I had done some research and brought my own accurate schedule of the day’s flights. So when there was a brief lull in the action I informed everyone what to expect next. The attention wasn’t expected, but it was nice  Wink
Now back to some more photos…



Another fairy low approach




Crowd building shortly before the AF A340 arrival.

Here she is, looking a little dirty I might add…

Unfortunately I didn’t get many pics because I switched to video.. same was true for the Corsair 747.


ATR vs. A340


Back taxiing to the terminal


US 757 taking the centerline.




This never got old! These little guys would dive in on short approached one after another. The winds were also gusty the entire day, so that made some of the landings even more interesting to watch.




IIRC this plane had to make a go-around... there just wasn’t enough landing distance remaining by the time he turned “final” haha
Burning calories running around for hours straight, having the time of my life only meant that I eventually needed to grab a bite to eat. After struggling to find an open table at Sunset we eventually succeeded and enjoyed some terrific food.
View from our table…

So many distractions while trying to eat. My head was continuously swiveling back and forth from my plate to the airplanes.




My fake “fence-holding” pose lol


Look at all that metal! Busy busy day at SXM just like I anticipated.
Now around this time I, as well as everyone else, anxiously awaited the arrival of the Corsair 747. It apparently was running a little late, then all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of it to the north turning downwind. The moment had everyone waited for finally had arrived.



Once that rush was over we lingered for a few more minutes before deciding to call it a day by finding a taxi to return to the port. Our van ride had a delayed start since we were held up in a line of traffic that had to momentarily hold short of the runway for a 757 to takeoff.
Overall, my experience at SXM was absolutely incredible. It was very surreal to actually be there in person and to witness all the excitement close up. I wish I would’ve been able to stay to watch the heavies depart because I really wanted to experience their powerful jetblast, but they just didn’t depart early enough. In total I took around 600-800 photos in about 6 hours and several videos as well. I really hope to go back someday, maybe for a longer stay in the future. Originally we were going to just go to SXM only for a 5 day vacation, but those prices got quite ridiculous so we opted with the cruise. If you have been to SXM already you know how addicting that true aviation enthusiast’s paradise really is. If you haven’t made a visit yet, I think it goes without saying that I recommend this destination for you future travel plans. You will not be let down!
Thanks for reading,
-Gaston
Avoid the Chicago ORDeal!! Fly MKE!
 
nqyguy
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:00 am

Fantastic photos there- you make me want to visit myself! Thanks for sharing Gaston.
 
lukeyboy95
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:00 am

Good job with the report mate... more so a spotting report, but still highly enjoyable.

Good atmosphere at Maho beach, it has apparently become quite an attraction. It'll be a real shame when Corsair stop flying their 747s in there... but hopefully the A380 might rise to the challange...

Cheers dude!
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
Flightsimboy
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:59 am

Thanks for sharing. I guess you need to be there to experience it for yourself. Is that Roni on the far right (person away from the others) taking the jet blast from the 757?  Wow!
 
oldman55
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:41 am

Great report Gaston; Its a little dissapointing that you didn't get a closer shot of the 747. Gravelly Point at DCA is close to the airport also; but not THAT close lol. Nothing goes there larger than a 757 either, and not many of them.  Yeah sure
too bad most of us get too soon old and too late smart
 
bufmd90pl
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:25 am

Awesome report Gaston!!  Wink
Views expressed are MINE only and NOT of United Airlines, United Continental Holdings
 
mkeflyer717
Posts: 388
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2004 12:41 pm

RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:29 am

Hey thanks for the comments everyone! And TJ, welcome to the A.net family  Wink I probably wouldnt have realized it was you if it wasn't for that mysteriously placed wink haha.

Quoting Oldman55 (Reply 4):
Its a little dissapointing that you didn't get a closer shot of the 747

Yeah, I know  Sad I've gotten over it for the most part, except for those few restless nights when such regrets keep me awake  Wink

Quoting Lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):
Good atmosphere at Maho beach, it has apparently become quite an attraction. It'll be a real shame when Corsair stop flying their 747s in there

It sure has. Hopefully the talk about closing the beach in the future to possibly extend the runway never comes true. When is Corsair ending the 747 service? I have not heard about this.

Here's some links to a few videos I have up on youtube...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwbwOnHLkyU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuCA8HAgDbE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj-Btct6tFc
Avoid the Chicago ORDeal!! Fly MKE!
 
MadameConcorde
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sun Dec 27, 2009 6:16 pm

Thank you very much for posting this report with all these nice pictures. This is very complete, it gives a very good idea of what the scene is like. Were there any Japanese around at Maho that day? They know about the place and are very fond of it I hear.

How many United flights to SXM every day? Where do they originate from? Any idea? How about the Air Caraibes? They seem to be operating a number of different aircraft types and I would very much liike to try them out of and into SXM if they are not too costly. I will have to see what islands they serve. Also I will have to check on the cost of the next door hotel/resort with possible in-room plane spotting. The food at the café sounds yummy not talking about the view!

Anyway thanks a lot, this was good fun looking at. I am glad you had a good time. You will make many A.netters wanting to go there!  airplane   airplane   airplane   airplane 

I hope Princess Juliana airport will stay open a while longer. Never know what will come next.
There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
 
ronerone
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sun Dec 27, 2009 7:11 pm



Quoting Flightsimboy (Reply 3):
Is that Roni on the far right (person away from the others) taking the jet blast from the 757?

LOL! I caught this quote by accident  Smile ... I have yet to go to SXM for this wonderful experience!

Nice report Mkeflyer717! I hope to do this myself one day!


Regards,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
staralliance38
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sun Dec 27, 2009 8:02 pm

Great TR! Awesome pics! SXM is on my must next time I'm in the Caribbean!
Roar, lion, roar
 
SAAB900
Posts: 262
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:38 pm

Im getting no photo's just "Bandwidth Exceeded"  hissyfit 

Dave(SAAB900).
 
lukeyboy95
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:07 am



Quoting Mkeflyer717 (Reply 6):
When is Corsair ending the 747 service?

oh, purely speculation! But we know how 747's are very sadly meeting their demise and being phased out....God save the Queen
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
mkeflyer717
Posts: 388
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2004 12:41 pm

RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:58 am

Darn, this bandwith problem happened once in the past. i've apparently reached my bandwith usage limit for the month. An email notification from photobucket says we'll have to wait until Jan. 9th for the everything to reset so that the pictures will be visible again. The only other solution would be for me to purchase the pro upgrade thing, but I am not doing that. Ughh I didn't expect this to happen... sorry everyone.

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 7):
Were there any Japanese around at Maho that day? They know about the place and are very fond of it I hear.

Not a ton from what I can recall. It was mostly Canadian and American tourists from our ship and another that docked that day.

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 7):
How many United flights to SXM every day? Where do they originate from? Any idea? How about the Air Caraibes?

According to wikipedia, United flies to SXM from ORD and IAD. I'm not sure how often though.
Air Caraibes destinations from SXM are: Pointe-à-Pitre, St Barthélemy, Paris-Orly, Port-au-Prince.

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 7):
Also I will have to check on the cost of the next door hotel/resort with possible in-room plane spotting.

That's would we originally we're planning on doing. The Sonesta Maho Beach resort was fairly reasonable, but the airfare spiked suddenly and it became more practical to go with the cruise since flights to SJU were rather cheap out of MCO. In my opinion cruises continue to be the best way to see the Caribbean and I'm already anxiously awating my next one this coming March on the Crown Princess out of Ft. Lauderdale with 2 days at sea and stops in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan Honduras, and Princess Cay (the cruise line's private island) in the Bahamas.

Quoting Lukeyboy95 (Reply 11):
oh, purely speculation! But we know how 747's are very sadly meeting their demise and being phased out....God save the Queen

Oh Ok gotcha. I thought there may have been some sort of announcement that Corsair was switching to only A330s on that route, but I hear ya about the 747s. Beautiful aircraft, that Ive sadly not have had a chance to ride in yet   hopefully some day I will

[Edited 2009-12-28 23:24:14 by mkeflyer717]
Avoid the Chicago ORDeal!! Fly MKE!
 
bufmd90pl
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:41 am

Thanks for the welcome Gaston.
Views expressed are MINE only and NOT of United Airlines, United Continental Holdings
 
Widebodyroga
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:39 am

Hey Mkeflyer717

How about providing us with the link to your photobucket account so we can see the photos from there? Will that not work? I think that even if you exceed your limit, one can directly see the photos from there? Or am I wrong? In a ny case, a great report. Can't wait for the photos.
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JMackey
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:42 am

Mkeflyer-

Even though we can't see the photos, your enthusiasm about the trip speaks for itself.

Thanks for all the great trip reports otherwise.
I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:00 pm



Quoting Mkeflyer717 (Reply 12):
Air Caraibes destinations from SXM are: Pointe-à-Pitre, St Barthélemy, Paris-Orly, Port-au-Prince.

I haven't been to either myself, but I would pick St Bart, simply for this experience:


View Large View Medium
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Photo © D. Coleman
View Large View Medium
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Photo © Daniel Piotrowski




View Large View Medium
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Photo © Sam Pollitt

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
DrJCraig
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:28 pm

Gaston,

Bravo! I am finally going to get there in 2 weeks - staying at a small hotel adjacent to the pad where the jets turn around to head back up the rwy to get to the terminal. Your report is the very best I've seen on this board.

Cheers,
Craig
 
jayeshrulz
Posts: 349
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:29 am

I just enjoyed reading your TR.
Awesome photographs, and it seems you had a good time.
At SXM, you will never get bored!!
Cheers!
Keep flying, because the sky is no limit!
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:39 am

Hi Gaston,

really enjoyable report with many great shots. Nice to see such a variety of airlines and types at SXM.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
ua777222
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:34 am

Just left a week at SXM. Simply amazing. Standing under these aircraft as they take off takes your breath away. I've uploaded a few shots to A.net, we'll see how they come out.

Sunset Bar and Grill is a great place. The staff are friendly and didn't mind me taking up a table for close to 4 hours. We were eating and drinking the entire time however. While the beach and view will draw you there, Sunset (at least while we were there) was giving out 2-for-1 beers.

Miss the place already.
"It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark."
 
ba319-131
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:25 pm

Thanks for posting, loved the pictures, always special.

SXM is a place I've always wanted to visit, though not got around to it due to the low traffice volumes, perhaps one day when on a vacation.

Cheers

Mark
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richierich
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Fri May 07, 2010 3:29 pm

Sweet photos! Too bad the weather wasn't so good but at least it kept the sun to a tolerable level.

I was there in February and it is simply a great place to spend some time! I was at the Sunset Beach bar and Maho Beach for at least two full afternoons after spending some time elsewhere on the island in the mornings and evenings. I was fortunate to see the Corsair 747 come in as well, its quite a sight!

The mix of people on the beach was typical aviation geeks (nothing wrong with that - heck, I was there!), other curious tourists and lots of cruise ship passengers. In fact, part of the cruise crew was there on one of my days, and let me say that is the freaking life! These young guys and girls work hard but also play hard - they were frolicking in the sand and enjoying the same $3 Presidentes as me, only they would be sailing on to another island and another beach tomorrow. This cycle gets repeated almost daily for weeks... wow, got to love it! (Not to mention one of the girls, an Australian, was amazing looking and really caught my eye!) I also talked with some WestJet employees who arrived - not by WestJet - but by the same cruise ship which was at port in Phillipsburg some 7 miles away from Maho Beach.

Anyway, thanks for letting me relive memories from just a few months ago!
None shall pass!!!!
 
Ps76
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RE: A Day At The Beach, SXM Style! (many Pics)

Thu May 13, 2010 8:47 pm

Hello(!),

Just to say many thanks for the report/pics etc. Yup must be quite something being a pilot and flying into there(!) A pilot called Captain Tony Valillo for American Airlines I think did a trip report of it on Flightsim.com and it was pretty cool how self-conscious he was of being photographed by onlookers on the beach(!)

Glad you enjoyed the spotting trip and the cruise sounds pretty sweet too.

Many thanks,

Pierre

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