Fact 1: Sunbathing tourists on Maho beach can get blown away by the jet blast of incoming and outgoing flights!
The Carribean Island of Saint Martin (Sint Maartin if you’re over on the Dutch side of the island) has a very unusual flight path for tourists landing at Princess Juliana International Airport- right over the heads of sunbathers on the beach. Due to the short length of the main runway, and the airport’s position between a hill and a beach, planes fly incredibly close to Maho beach
, which means that tourists can get blown away by the Jet Blast of the airplanes! Unsurprisingly, the beach attracts many aviation enthusiasts wanting to photograph the spectacle. If that wasn’t scary enough, a warning sign on the beach states that “Jetblast of departing and arriving aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death”. Eek!
Fact 2: You’re more likely to die from being stung by a bee than you are in an aviation accident.
Statistically, flying is the safest form of travel. With deaths per billion passenger-kilometres being lower for air travel than any other form of travel, you can fly fearless! You have a 1 in 6.1 million chance of dying from a bee sting according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, whereas if you fly with one of the world’s 25 safest airlines, your odds of dying are 1 in over 10 million. So stop panicking and enjoy your flight!
Fact 3: Not all airplane meals taste like cardboard.
Airplane food generally has a pretty bad reputation for being, well, a big minging. Well, not anymore! Asian airline Cathay Pacific have rice cookers, skillets and toasters on board their aircraft, so their flight attendants can cook fresh food to your liking. First Class passengers can go à la carte and choose their own meals, dining anytime they wish. Want a nosy at which foods are offered by airlines? Have a look at AirlineMeals.net to see the best and worst meals available.
Fact 4: There are A LOT of flights every day!
According to NATCA, “On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only one-third are commercial carriers, like American, United or Southwest. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings.
For every one flight you see listed on an airport monitor, two you don’t see show up on air traffic controllers’ screens. It would take approximately 7,300 airport terminal monitors to show all the flights controllers handle in a single day and approximately 460 monitors to show the number of flights being handled at any one time.”
Remember, this is for the USA only. Just think of all the other countries in the world! There are over 6,000 flights every day in England and Wales, and we can expect an extra 700 flights during the Olympic period in London alone.
Fact 5: The average delay per flight is 4.3 seconds.
There are many flights each day that aren’t delayed- however, I’m sure you’ve experienced one of the unlucky delayed flights at some point! The best reason I’ve ever heard for delayed flights is in 1982 when Lawnchair Larry Walters attached helium balloons to a garden chair and flew 16,000 feet in the air over the airspace of LAX airport, causing disruptions to service and the deployment of an emergency helicopter. Larry ended up being arrested for the violation of LAX airspace, but the story has almost legendary status, inspiring films such as Pixar’s ‘Up.’