A commercial aviation and travel blog.

Spotting Spots: St. Maarten, Saba & St. Barth’s

Last month I wrote an article about the spotting opportunities at St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport in the Caribbean. (See post: Spotting Spot: Maho Beach, St. Maarten) Andy Cruickshank was there last November and spent an afternoon watching the various approach techniques. He was nice enough to send in some really great pictures he took while visiting St. Maarten as well as information and photos of two great nearby spotting locations, Saba & St. Barth's.

American Airlines Boeing 757 on a near perfect approach into St. Maarten (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)

A Regular Visitor to St. Maarten, this Amerijet Boeing 727 is a tad low to say the least! (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)

Air France a340 lining up for departure back to Paris (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)

The surfboard at the famous Sunset Beach Bar, showing St. Maarten's arrivals for the day (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)

There are two airports close by to St. Maarten that are definitely worth a visit. The islands of Saba and St. Barth's are just a 10-15 minute flight from SXM.

Saba (SAB or TNCS) claims to be the shortest commercial runway in the world at about 380m or 1300 ft and sits atop a rock about 50m above the ocean. Winair flies there 4-5 times a day and offers a "same day" round trip fare. The take off is more dramatic than the landing. Saba is 5 sq miles and 3000 ft in the center. There are several great places to view the Winair arrivals and departures and one place is at the departure end and you can see how much runway is used!

A WinAir DHC-6 Twin Otter departing Runway 12 at Saba (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)

The other (and in Andy's view more exciting) is St Barths (SBH or TFFJ) where the runway is about 490m or 1600 ft but has a 100m or 300ft hill and road on the approach. It is a VERY exciting ride and very steep approach. Andy flew with Winair to both in a Twin Otter but there are other operators to St Barths as well. Typically the cockpit door is open and if you are at the front of the line you can get a "jump seat" view. There is a YouTube videoout there of a botched landing and the aircraft is still parked at the airport. You can walk from the terminal up the hill and watch the arrivals from there. Flights are about $60 each way in to either place and all connections are through STM. For aviation enthusiasts having three dramatic airports so close together can make for a great vacation in it's own right. Special thanks to Andy Cruickshank for all of his information and photos making this article possible.
A Winair Twin Otter on St. Barth's very steep approach for Runway 10 (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)

Cessna Caravan on approach for Runway 10 at St. Barth's (Photo by Andy Cruickshank)


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About Kyle

I am a recent college graduate with a degree in Aviation Management. I spend my time as an airline industry professional, private pilot, blogger and world traveler. I have visited 36 countries to date and don't plan on slowing down. This blog is my way of sharing the latest developments in the airline industry as well as experiences from my world travels. All views and opinions are strictly my own.

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