St. Maarten, Dutch Antilles — A jet blast has claimed the life of a New Zealand tourist near the St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport.
Reports say that the 57-year-old woman was a plane spotter at the nearby beach which is internationally famed for its views of approaching aircraft. Despite warning signs, the woman was standing too close to the fence barrier that separates the beach from the runway.
The force of the overhead jet blasts from the Boeing 737 tossed her, causing her to hit her head on the ground. She was taken to a local hospital where she died.
According to a NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System survey by Rowena Morrison, most people do not understand the strength of jet engines, noting the expelled force can “uproot trees, flatten building structures, shatter windows, lift and propel heavy objects.”
Each year, thousands of thrill seekers arrive to the Caribbean Maho Beach where they watch planes land. There are some that get as close as possible to the fence even though bilingual signs are clearly posted saying “Do not stand. Danger. Jet blast.”
This is the first spectator death at the beach, however in 2012, another woman was seriously injured from a jet blast when she was thrown against a concrete barrier.