Pilots of the Caribbean
In which I get lucky enough to be a guest of Princess Juliana International Airport and enjoy the thrills of St Maarten and its surrounds
One of my long cherished destinations, I was not disappointed. I just spent a week having possibly the most enjoyable press trip of my entire life. St Maarten has been on my bucket list for ever, and though I swore not to ‘surf the fence, ‘ as soon as I arrived I was hooked and up there along with several other like minded people.
If you’ve never stood underneath finals of a thundering Boeing 747 you haven’t lived. Add to that the joys of experiencing heartstopping landings at neighbouring islands St Barth’s and Saba, and you have a true avgeek’s paradise. Even our beautiful hotel, the Sonesta, offered 5 star balcony views.
The airport did us proud – not only did we get to tour the facility and meet TLC Aviation, managers of the executive aviation FBO, we also had the joys of resident airline Winair, who escorted us around the islands. Add to this delicious meals at the hotel and local restaurants, plus a trip to Loterie farm and a stay at the wonderful La Shambala on the French side and you have an entirely delicious experience.
I’ll give a list of props to the wonderful people who made this happen, plus a shout out to the talented journalists I shared the magical experience with. Thanks to
Regina LaBega, airport manager and her team: Suzy Kartokromo, Anne Marie, Fabian, Greg Hassell, ATC manager, Elsie Marishaw, Tourist Board of St Martin, Helena DeBekker of Winair, Bruno Magras, Sheldon and Earl at TLC, Rolando and his team, who drove us everywhere, and fellow hacks, Kathryn Creedy Kristen at borderfreeproductions, Hazel King, Chris Kjelgaard, Rob Mark, Leslie Yip, Seth Miller, Michele Peterson, Adam Twiddell, Miguel Ros, Sheldon and Earl at TLC, and Darlene at the Daily Herald.
And massive kudos to Cdr Bud Slabbaert, who arranged the entire trip!