Saint-Barthélemy is a small island in the Caribbean Sea, located between the islands of Sint Maarten and St. Kitts. The island is an oversea collectivity of France and with only 21 square kilometers, it is one of the smaller islands of the Caribbean. Its a popular place for the rich and famous and the luxury resorts are nothing for the ‘normal’ tourist.
Anyway, the airport is well know by aviation enthusiasts because of its famous runway 10 approach. At the end of the threshold is a steep hill, while on the other side is the ocean, so altogether makes SBH one of the world´s most dangerous airports! Aircrafts on arrival for 10 have to pass the hill by push the nose extremely down during the final approach and pull it up just a few seconds before touching down. The distance between the hills edge and the plane can be less than two meters.
The runway is only 650 meters long and due to the difficult approach you see no jet aircrafts and only props. The biggest aircraft is the DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by Winair with flights to Sint Maarten and Air Antilles Express offering flights to Guadeloupe. Other schedule carriers are Tradewinds Airlines with PC-12, Saint Barth Commuter with Cessna Caravan and Windward Express and Anguilla Air Service both operating the Britten Norman Islander.
Please, never stand directly under the flight path at both ends of the runway. Planes are very very low and there is always a chance of getting hit. An American tourist was struck and killed by a departing aircraft at SBH in 2008!
Written by Julian Mittnacht (visited January 2015), Luís Sousa (pics for spot3)
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|All airline are served at the same Terminal|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||No need. Its just a small wooden fence.|
|Car||Everything within walking distance|
|Restrooms||Inside the terminal|
|Drinks/Food||Inside the terminal|
|Hotels||Plenty of Hotels on the island.|
|Season||The temperatures and daily sun hours are the same all year round but more rain and hurricanes between July and November.|
||10 is the main direction for arrivals and departures. 28 arrivals are very rare.|
|Spot #1 – The Hill|
|WHERE||To get on top of the hill just exit the terminal at the rental cars offices and pass the parking lot. You will be on the sidewalk of the road which is parallel to the runway and leads up the hill to the roundabout. It takes just 2 or 3 minutes to get there! You can stay on the sidewalk or just walk up to the roundabout for a different angle.|
|WHAT||You see the planes arriving from the ocean, passing the roundabout and starting there steep approach into RWY 10. If you stay a little more down the road, closer to the terminal, you can spot the departing aircrafts too.|
|TIME||You can stay here the whole day and easily move to the other side of the runway if the sun turns around in the summer.|
|MISC.||There is shadow on the other side of the road otherwise its getting very hot.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Between 30-150mm. Depends on the position.|
|Spot #2 – Terminal|
|WHERE||There are two locations within the terminal. One is landside on the first floor where the cafeteria and toilets are with a big window where you see the apron and runway. The other one is airside, behind the security within the waiting area.|
|WHAT||You see all apron and runway movements. The spot on the first floor has a better view of the runway as the sight is not blocked from the aircrafts. At the gate, planes can obstruct your sight.|
|TIME||During the winter you have good light for the whole day.|
|MISC.||Everything you need is within the terminal, even an air condition 🙂|
|FOCAL LENGTH||80mm for the samples. All pictures taken from the gate area.|
|Spot #3 – Beach|
|WHERE||The spot is on the opposite site of #1. Exit the terminal to your left and follow the road along the perimeter fence to the beach. You can even see it when you leave the terminal.|
|WHAT||From this spot you can take pictures from 28 arrivals and departing aircrafts on 10 (bad angle). Its possible that you get some arriving aircrafts on 10 when they turn around on the threshold but usually they already turn in the middle of the runway and you will miss them.|
|MISC.||Everything you need is within the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Equal focal length as on Spot 1 and 2.|