Grand Case-L'Espérance is St.Maarten/St.Martin's other airport. All international carriers go to Princess Juliana airport, and Grand Case is mainly served by domestic French Caribbean carriers and private aircraft. With the west side of the airfield pointing in a lagoon, interesting views can be had here too and the airfield is worth a visit.
The airport has a single 12/30 runway, with the 12 threshold surrounded by a lagoon. The same applies to the terminal area, which can be found on the north side of the runway. Even between the runway and the apron, aircraft have to cross a canal. A road leads around the 30 threshold, offering good views.
Grand Case is situated north of Marigot, the capital of French St. Martin. Its airport can be found a bit more inland, on the road to Orient Beach. The best way to explore the airport is by car so you can move around quickly, as it is not served by public transport.
A good spot to start your tour is obviously near the terminal area. At the west side of the parking lot a fence provides views of the main apron. For the full score, check out the east side on the other side of the terminal as well. Photography is hampered by backlight here.
230 Approach - south side
From the terminal area, turn left and right again to the shopping mall. From the parking lot of the shopping mall, nice shots can be made from aircraft in take off from runway 12.
312/30 Runway - north side
From the terminal, take a left turn. After a few hundred meters the entrance of a gated community can be found, which is freely accessible. Its large, but steep, parking lot offers great views of the 12 approach. Just go as high up to the mountain as you can to avoid the power lines spoiling your views. Photography is great until about 10.00AM.
412 Approach - south side
For a picture of a low approach, spot 4 is the place to be. The road into Grand Case is flanked by shrubs on the north side, preventing easy views of the airfield. However, just before reaching the first residential area, a restaurant named Cito's Place can be found on your left. From here, shots can be made over the shrubs. Light is best in the late afternoon.
512 Approach - south side
Many airfields in the Caribbean have a low-over-the-beach-approach and Grand Case is no exception. A few ways to get there exist and your way will depend on your navigation skills in the narrow streets of the village.... Grand Case southern beaches are best for viewing the 12 approach with favourable light conditions, between 10.00AM and 02.00PM that is.
Take off shot taken from spot 2 in the late afternoon (Wim Sonneveld).
Approach shot from spot 4 (Wim Sonneveld).
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