Tourist Killed By Jet Blast In St. Maarten


A 57-year-old tourist from New Zealand was killed earlier this week when she was knocked off her feet and into a retaining wall while watching jets depart from the St. Maarten Airport. Even if the name is unfamiliar, most pilots are familiar with pictures of baby-blue KLM 747s flying low over the heads of tourists on a narrow, white sand beach. The proximity to landing and departing aircraft has made the narrow stretch of Maho Beach a global tourist attraction, but one not entirely free of risk.

Most visitors watch the jets taking off and landing for the sheer joy of being sandblasted by high-bypass turbofans, which has proven to be fairly safe. Local tourism official Rolando Brinson says fewer than 10 people have been hospitalized from jet blast injuries in the 50 years the airport has been in operation. The woman killed this week was said to have been hanging onto the airport fence across the road from the beach. Although this marks the first fatality at the spot, in 2014 a woman was seriously injured when she let go of the same fence and tumbled head first into a retaining wall. That incident was captured on video and later shared on YouTube.