It’s been on my bucket list ever since I first saw a video of it. Before I die, I wanted to go to St. Maarten, sip a Mai Tai on Maho Beach, and have 875,000 pounds of 747 scream over my head and blow the paper umbrella from my glass. Sadly, I have missed my chance.

Today marks the final time that gorgeous blue and white KLM 747-400 will make its hair-raising, sand-blasting landing on Runway 10 at Princess Juliana International Airport. Starting on October 30, the iconic Boeing jumbo jet will be replaced on the route by an Airbus A330. It will still be a big, pretty, blue and white plane, but it won’t be the same as that graceful, humpbacked behemoth. Maybe it’s the long history of the 747 that speaks to this aviation historian. And, to be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of Airbus airplanes.

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So, I guess St. Maarten will remain on my bucket list. The idea of having any large airliner fly over my head, almost close enough to touch, is exciting. And I might still get lucky and see a 747 land there, but not with the set-your-watch predictability of KLM Flight 785. And that makes me just a little bit sad.


Photo by Timo Breidenstein via Wikimedia Commons; photo by Krisspao via Wikimedia Commons

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