KLM jet damages cars in St. Maarten
St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport lived up to its illustrious reputation Tuesday, when a KLM aircraft damaged at least 17 vehicles parked alongside the beachside runway. KLM flight 785 had come in from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, and was fully booked, according to a spokesman for the airline.
The pressure coming from the engines of the KLM Boeing 747 caused a jet blast that blew out windshields and windows of the parked vehicles. Landings are usually safe, but according to the island’s The Daily Herald newspaper, after touchdown the KLM aircraft made a left turn at the eastern end of the runway, instead of a right turn. Damaged vehicles are believed to belong to patrons of a nearby hotel and beach bar. When asked about the cause of the incident, the spokesman said, "There is an investigation and until the results are published I can't say anything about it." Local airport authorities are in charge of the investigation, he said. No damage to the aircraft was reported, and there were no injuries. There were no delays to other flights as a result of the incident.
St. Maarten’s airport is an attraction in its own rank on the island; located just off Maho Beach, incoming jets roar in and out just a few meters over the heads of beach goers. Thrill seeking vacationers are often spotted at the western end of the runway, seeking to get “blown away” by the jetblast of departing aircraft; this is against the airport company’s advice as the thrust of the blast has been known to tumble and injure people and cars alike. The island of St. Maarten is one of five islands that form the Dutch Caribbean; as per October 10 2010 the island is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. KLM carries out multiple weekly direct flights to St. Maarten. -with reporting by Zack Newmark