By Mike Atkinson | Drive Producer and Public Relations Officer
A Dutch commercial aircraft will longer land on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, which passed just 100 ft above a packed beach of holiday makers.
It was one of the most daredevil landings the KLM Boeing 747 commercial aircraft had to make over Maho Beach which had plane spotters flocking to the destination in droves.
The route that had been serving hair-raising landing since 1990 will now be served by a smaller Airbus that will seat 243 passengers, which is nearly half on what the 747 would seat, so if you were planning on heading down to the French and Dutch island there will still be a show for you.
Chief Pilot Van der Ven has performed the landing some 12 times in his seven years as 747 pilot. He explained that the approach was very special for pilots because they have to do a large part manually. The height of the aircraft is very important because the runway is short.
“At other airports, you make the landing as smooth as possible for the applause and your own ego. But in St. Maarten you have to put the aircraft on the ground at once,” he stated in the RTL article. The pilots are so concentrated when they land that they don’t notice a lot of the crowd on the beach. “But you know that they are there. When we take off, we do see them. We wave at them. Those are precious memories.”
The aircraft that will be used on the route Amsterdam-St. Maarten is also a nice plane, but it cannot be compared to the Boeing 747-400, said Van der Ven. Modern aircraft look more alike and they don’t have a second floor and the four engines of the 747. “She is the Queen of the Skies,” said the chief pilot who would not be carrying out the last flight to St. Maarten.