Paralyzed By Fear-Yoga Under an Airplane

Posted by Steven Russell on Thursday, December 11, 2014

I did it. We are in Sint Maarten. Joe and I departed from our traveling companions who went to Orient Beach and got in a Taxi for Maho Beach which is the one at the end of the runway(see my earlier post Paralyzed By Fear-Yoga On an Airplane). The taxi at the stand had room for one more(we were in a hurry to get to the beach at the time the planes start to land and to get back to the boat before it left) but the driver said that I could sit on the jump seat. It was a very small square in between the driver and the front seat passenger, sitting facing the back of the van. I was knee to knee with three women. Behind them, next to Joe, was a young man from Hazlet, NJ, about a mile from where we live. It was a long, bumpy ride.

I had seen YouTube videos of planes landing and taking off from Maho Beach. I had heard stories of people clinging to the fence while 747s started their engines and being blown across the sand into the water. There are two cement dividers that you could tumble into. There were thousands of people on a very small strip of beach at the end of the runway. The water was warm and rough and the beach was steep. I took videos of several planes flying over at frighteningly close distances from the people standing on the beach. A large plane was about to take off just feet from the beach. Joe decided to run to the very end of the runway. I don't think he understood quite the reality of jet engines. The engines revved and sand flew. People tumbled toward the water. He came running back. He was thrilled and I got the whole thing on video.

Later on I saw an American Airlines jet taxiing toward us.  I decided to go to the danger zone. One of the Canadian brothers(they just happened to be sitting next to us on the beach) came with me. He advised we not cling to the fence. I didn't need to be convinced. I started to worry about my ears and eyes, but I had on sunglasses. I could always hold on to them and cover my ears at the same time. While we were waiting for the plane to take off, a large, four-engine Air France jet landed right over us. It was frighteningly thrilling. Then, the AA jet got into place and the sand flew. The air and sand were hot. It pelted me. I covered my ears and faced away. I yelled and whooped.
Was it exciting? You bet. Scary? Only enough to make it more exciting. What felt the best was knowing there were thousands of others, giggling in anticipation. Running to the danger zone, whooping and waving to the pilots who often waved back. In the taxi ride on the way back to the ship, we rode with a young man from Toms River, NJ. Why did he come to Maho? He's an air traffic controller.

It was a good day.


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