SINT MAARTEN TO ATLANTA
Thanks to @Inside_Flight for being so accommodating for two departures in the space of 20 minutes - the first wasn’t the greatest on my part so wanted to re-do it (first ever Princess Juliana take off) and thanks @Prashant_Divedi on approach ATC on the second run at that time.
Oh it’s a combination. This airport, a busy and active tower but no ground, with full gates and constant spawning of aircraft. This isn’t a moan at all but more of an observation of my first experience here, very busy and UNICOM is used on one frequency at what is quite a cramped airport.
I spawned further up the gate line, with traffic already pushed and taxiing behind, trying to plan a safe time and spot to find and push myself after they had cleared (as of course they were there first). Alas, after the previous pilots had cleared, the heavy spawning continues and although there were attempts to push a couple of times after where safe, more aircraft spawn and immediately push and taxi in a hurry before I get the chance, closing every gap off buy the inch thus having to move forward again to the gate a few times to avoid colliding. That’s ok, I was in no hurry and certainly wasn’t prepared to damage this lovely old aircraft just to prove a point. More of a popcorn moment actually whilst watching a bit of a free for all circus unfolding - a sea of planes pushing back on each other, revving engines, bumper to bumper impatience. I can see at least 6 or 7 expensive collisions going on as aircraft push and taxi into each other in a sea of impatience right next to me, meanwhile still waiting for a safe push spot.
Just as I’m ready to abort the flight instead of giving in to simply pushing back into someone else to get going, finally a kind soul stops and flashes the lights to indicate pushback ahead of them as they had spawned later further down and could clearly see my push attempts back and forth to the gate - nice touch and much appreciated!
Finally we’re in the air, and a smooth bank after lift off to avoid those mountains ahead sees us heading towards Atlanta in this trusty old (now stored) 757-232, hearing the sound of the 2 Pratt & Whitney PW2037 spooling once again like they first did in 1988 for N638DL.
The couple of changes to the flight plan were made so we could have a look at some of the lovely little Turks and Caicos islands near the West Indies, Long Island and some other parts as well before finding the coast of Florida, through Georgia and down into Atlanta. Phew! All waiting paid off and we made the windy approach in.
All in all a very enjoyable and satisfying flight.
Departure: TNCM (Princess Juliana International Airport, Sint Maarten).
Arrival: KATL (Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia, USA).
Flight time: 3 hours 49 minutes.
Notes: As always, no hard editing was done to the photos, just some personal preference slight changes to the light and contrast and working with what is available – nothing fake added or taken away.