One of the world's largest aircraft, the An-124 Condor, made its grand arrival at St. Maarten's famous Princess Juliana Airport today. Owned and operated by Ukraine's Antonov Airlines, the transport made the flight from the Dutch island of Curacao, which is located off the northern tip of Venezuela. The one hour and 34 minute flight covered roughly 560 miles—a relatively short hop for the An-124. The aircraft carried emergency supplies for storm ravaged St. Maarten, including a number of garbage trucks which will clearly be invaluable when it comes to the cleanup and rebuilding effort.
A unique arrival to the island like this would not be complete without a video of the moment shot from Maho Beach—possibly the most famous plane spotting location in the entire world. Check out the video of the Condor's up-close and personal landing below:
The An-124's departure wasn't as dramatic as the jet was empty and only flying a short 30 minute leg to the island of St. Johns. When loaded up, they are known to use a lot of pavement to claw their way into the air.
The damage on St. Maarten is bewildering, with 90% of all structures damaged or destroyed and 30% totally destroyed. Aircraft have been a key lifeline for the island, and there has been a near constant stream of airlifters making their way to and from the island in recent weeks. These aircraft have brought critical supplies needed to sustain St. Maarten's citizens as well as evacuating some residents and visitors. Aside from the military aircraft and chartered flights, Samaritan's Purse has made runs to the isalnd with their gorgeous DC-8.
Here is a Armée de l'Air, A400M arriving at the island with supplies:
With so much destruction in the region from multiple hits by some of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history, international aid can't be concentrated on just one locale. Making things worse, with the U.S. facing its own harrowing aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, resources that could otherwise be brought to bear on islands like St. Maarten are being diverted to the American territory.
But there are some good signs, one of which is that airplane spotters are already back on what's left of Maho Beach, capturing the aviation action. If anything this is at least an obscure sign that things are slowly returning to some form of normalcy, although there is clearly a long and arduous road for the island paradise.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com