Airport to stop thrill seekers at “blowback beach”

Security measures will be increased at Maho Beach on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in response to this video-gone-viral showing a woman being injured by jet blast from a JetBlue airplane.

The beach is just steps from Princess Juliana International Airport, where airplanes take off and land so low over the beach that the area has become a popular attraction for plane spotters and tourists. The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau even markets Maho Beach as a tourist attraction.

But despite posted signs warning that a blast from a jet’s engines can cause “extreme bodily harm and/or death,” thrill seekers often gather by the fence at the end of the runway and try to hold on through the jet blast of a departing plane.

You Tube videos show beachgoers seemingly enjoying being buffeted by airplane blowback, but in a video posted April 6 and viewed so far more than 4.7 million times, a woman is shown being blown from the fence and tumbling head first toward a concrete barrier.

In a statement released Thursday by Princess Juliana International Airport, officials say the woman’s injuries “were reportedly not debilitating,” but that in response to this and other incidents, heightened security measures at the airport and on the beach are now being considered.

“Incidents such as this unfortunate one emphasize the need for all our visitors to heed the clear warnings — about the dangers of jet blast — posted along the airport fence,” the statement said.

Measures currently in place include double fencing, warning signs, and brightly painted guardrails, the statement said, “all of which have been implemented in consultation with the government to deter dangerous activity.”

The airport also plans to work with the St. Maarten government on stricter enforcement of the warnings posted along the fence.

While it acknowledges the obvious attraction of planes landing so close to the beach and knows that this has added to the popularity of the destination, the airport said in the statement that “no amount of excitement or thrill can justify putting one’s life in danger.”

(My story Airport aims to stop thrill seekers at ‘blowback’ beach” first appeared on mnbc.com’s Overhead Bin)

 

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