The first time I visited St Maarten, the beautiful island in the Caribbean was back in November 2000. I was on a photo assignment filming a flight to SXM from ORY on AOM’s DC-10 F-GHOI.

Unfortunately we only had 24 hours on the island during the layover. 24 hours isn’t much if you just landed at SXM, believe me. Like so many others I had seen the great shots from the approach over the beach. I just knew I had to have that shot before flying back home again.

We touched down at 18:42 (z), taxied to our parking stand and shut down the engines. The passengers disembarked the aircraft and the crew prepared to leave. As we got down the stairs the new crew met us, they were flying the aircraft back to Paris.
I now realised that the big, thick winter jacket I was wearing back home in Sweden was totally unnecessary here. Warm winds blew through my hair and the sun was shining from a blue sky with only few clouds on it. As always I carry too much stuff when I’m on an assignment, now I had to bring the big jacket around. Arghh….
The crew transport took us across the bay to a nice little resort on the French side of the island. Half of St Maarten belongs to The Netherlands, and half of St Martin belongs to France. That’s why you can find two ways of spelling the name.

Once installed in my room, it was time for dinner. The crew and I met up in the bar, which was located almost on the beach. Lovely view! Fantastic place.
As it was such a short stopover, I decided to hit bed early so I wouldn’t turn my internal clock over.

Woke up next morning and enjoyed a marvellous breakfast on the patio with a view over the lagoon and beach. The sun reflecting on the white sand and in the waves…. A great day!

I rented a scooter and brought my camera bag and drove off to the airport. Time for some serious photography! Spent some time driving around the field on all small roads and paths I could find, in search for a new vantage point.
Yes, I wanted the famous beach shot, but  I always like to return with some exclusive shots that stand out from the rest. I found some spots but there was little traffic so I headed for Maho Beach. Yes, that’s the beach.

I discovered the SunsetBeachBar which wasn’t open yet, but it had a great location. Right at the beach with a perfect view of the beach and approach. I sat there for a while and watched the arrivals come in over the beach and touch down. Most arrivals where small aircraft, twin otters, Dash-8’s and Dc-9’s. Still it looked good with that blue water….

SXM Approach

After a while they opened the Beach bar. People started coming and shortly we were 10 people enjoying the weather, the arrivals, the girls on the beach and the sun! It was a quite windy day but that didn’t matter much as the winds were so warm and nice, compared to the cold winter winds back home.
On the flight down, I was recommended the local beer by one of the cabincrew. He said it was fantastic. I always like to try the local food and beer when I travel, so naturally I ordered a Carib at the bar. It was served with a slice of lime. Super!

Carib Beer

Simply press the lime down the bottleneck, and then enjoy your cold Carib.

Best thing known to man. So delicious. If you ever go to SXM, you must try this!

It was pure heaven sitting on the table by the beach bar, listening to the Best of Beatles, as they were playing in the bar. Looking out over the beach, shooting the arrivals as they came and getting a sun tan on the job!
Sometime in the afternoon there was finally a Boeing 747 on approach. At last! This is what I had been waiting for. I needed this shot. I wanted the beach, the water, people watching and a big 747 low over the beach.

I put my 20 mm lens on and went down to the beach. Checked out my position and sat down low. The 747 came closer and closer, more and more poeple came to see it pass low over their heads.

This is something you don’t want to miss here. Anyway, I took some shots of it and I am pretty happy with the result, a small cloud covered the fuselage as it passed but, the shot works anyway. Or what do you think ?

Classic SXM Shot

After spending the whole day around the airport, mostly at the beach it was time to drive back to the resort for some dinner and rest.

I returned the scooter and walked in to my room. In the shower I suddenly realised how much sun I had got during the day. Ouch! My face felt stiff, like the skin was too small for the face and my forehead was red like a stopsign.

I had forgotten to put on my sunscreen before I left this morning. The lotion was still in my bag in the room…
Oh, I already knew it would hurt in a couple of hours, not to mention how it would feel tomorrow…
I got dressed up for dinner and we had decided to meet up in the Captain’s room before we headed out. As I walked in the room, everybody looked at me and smiled.

One of the cabincrew came up to me and said with his french accent: -“Oh, Tommy, You’re so red!”
I’ll never forget his words and the expression on his face…

Lessen learned: Never forget your sunscreen, no matter how cool airport you’re going to.