Hato is the largest airport of the Dutch Caribbean and is located on the north coast of Curaçao, the largest island of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. International flights include European and American airlines and smaller regional carriers. Cargo flights and general aviation make up the civil presence. Because of its runway length and strategic location just off the South American mainland, Hato was chosen as a Forward Operating Location (FOL) by the US military, resulting in a presence of American military aircraft. The Dutch government is represented by the Duct Caribbean Coast Guard.
The north side of the airport is adjacent to the Caribbean Sea, neither facilities nor viewing spots can be found here.
The south side of the airport is where it all happens. From left to right you will find the US FOL, the coast guard facilities, cargo apron, the domestic and international aprons and the general aviation area.
Without a ferry connection to the South American mainland or any other island, Hato airport is the main gateway to Curaçao and most likely your point of entry. Coming from the capital Willemstad, head northeast on the Pater Euwensweg. After passing Julianadorp on your right you will find yourself on a large roundabout, take the second road on your right to the airport.
Around the Airport
1Approach runway 11
Because of the everblowing north eastern tradewind this approach is mostly used. You can reach this spot by heading to the Curinde Free Trade Zone. Coming from Souax, this is the first paved road on your left. Before reaching their gate, there's a dirt road on your left to the San Pedro Springs. Although guarded this is a public road. After about one mile, the road runs steep downhill. Just before this point there is room to park your car on the right. You will have a fantastic view of the approach from here. Photography is excellent from 10.00 AM with no more than 150mm.
2Holding point runway 11
Follow the road downhill to the threshold. After about 100 meters there's another spot to park your car. From here walk back up hill or to the base of the hill along the fence. A small hill (or heap) can be found here, just high enough for a great view over the fence. You need just 80mm to shoot the aircraft on the taxiway. If you bring a ladder you can make head-on shots on the taxiway as well.
From spot 1 you can climb the hill along the taxiway and walk all the way down. This hill offers great views of the taxiway and the touch down point on the runway. Stay out of sight of the pole-mounted cameras of the US FOL though! - this spot can no longer be reached as a quarry was established here.
This spot can be found half way towards the threshold on the same dirt road. From here, you will have a nice overview of the FOL-platform and in their open hangar. From 02.00 PM the aircraft can be photographed, but don't stay here too long and stay away from the fence. US security forces are very much alert. - this spot can no longer be reached as a quarry was established here.
5Coast guard apron
Dutch military aircraft and exotic military visitors can sometimes be found on the military apron. Nowadays, it is only permanently used by the coast guard. You can reach this spot by taking the first right after heading towards the Curinde Free Zone. The T-junction (to the left is the US FOL gate, to the right is the coast guard gate) is close to the apron. Between 10.00 AM and 02.00 PM aircraft parked behind the fence can be photographed. This is a hit and run spot, as you are right in front of both gates.
The highest point on the Franklin D. Rooseveltweg (near the junction to the terminal) used to be a viewpoint for the aircraft parked on the civil platform. An official spotters corner can be found here with a few parking spots. The spot is good for an overview, but photography is less exciting due to many obstacles. Aircraft parked on the general aviation platform to your right as well as aircraft in take-off can be seen from here.
Off the Franklin D. Rooseveltweg (near Hotel Holland), the Aeroclub is well signposted. Follow the road downhill towards the fence on your left. Here you can view general aviation both active and inactive.
From the Aeroclub follow the road along the fence to your right. When the road bends to the right off the fence, park your car on the left side of the road. Walk along the fence for several hundred meters. At the corner of the airfield perimeter, a former navy SP-2H Neptune can be found. In the morning, light conditions are favourable for taking shots with no more than 120mm. It is recommended to bring a small stepladder.
Continue on the main road from the Aeroclub to the 29 threshold. From 11.00 AM this spot is good for photography as well. Highly unlikely, but sometimes in September or October, the 29 approach will be used. This spot also provides good views of the 29 threshold and it is also possible to graph aircraft turning at the end of the runway when runway 11 is used.
For an elevated view of the airfield, and interesting take-off shots, enter the road just across from the main entry point of the airfield. This road goes steeply uphill to Netherlands Antilles Air Traffic Control (NAATC). Just after the curve to the left, you can park your car on the left side of the road. You can sit (or stand) on the crash barrier on the right hand side of the road. Beware of traffic here, from the curve its officially one direction only, but nobody seems to care...
Spot 1 is one of many excellent spots at Hato. Wim Sonneveld
Another great spot, although a bit harder to find is spot 2. Wim Sonneveld
|203/H||This ex-MLD SP-2H is used by the fire brigade near the 29 threshold.|
|Hato Flight Info||Flight Info for Hato Airport|
Order of Battle Dutch Caribbean
|Dutch Caribbean - Coast Guard|