St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles

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Bucket List

  1. Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) approach over Maho Beach: ☑

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t even begin to describe how frustrating this shot was. To be completely honest, I think I went through about 20-25 takes before being satisfied with any of the footage. I’m not a big fan of making excuses, but there were so many little details to consider with this particular shot…so many different factors that had to work flawlessly to create the end product.

First and foremost, I was working with a dangerously flat ball – which while inside the plane at 30,000 feet had managed to pump itself to a reasonable level, but much to my dismay, had deflated back to its normal state upon landing. On top of that, the sand proved to complicate the shot as well. The sand was soft and deep, which made jumping incredibly difficult during the beginning stages of any trick, due to a lack of “bounce”. It certainly didn’t help that the sand felt like embers under my bare feet as well. There were coastal winds, which when coupled with a flat ball proved to be a nightmare. That goes without mentioning the wind gusts created by the plane flying overhead. Lastly, the timing had to be perfect. What’s the purpose of executing a flawless ATW, HTW or TATW if the plane was too far off into the distance, or had already touched down on the runway? I began to feel even more discouraged, when I began juggling only to have a tourist run in front of my camera or block the shot. It’s almost comical looking through the GoPro footage, with old women jumping right in front of me to take a picture of the plane to couples photo-bombing my shot in order to take a selfie.

For these reasons (and more), I found myself sitting in the sand between planes in sheer frustration, at times wondering if I had set my sights too high, if I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was certain that the idea I had in my mind for this scene was not impossible by any means, which helped me push through and keep at it. I knew that my opportunity to make this vision come to life was finite, with only so many planes flying in per day, but I was determined to get the shot I wanted…even if it meant visiting the beach right up until our flight departure scheduled for Saturday afternoon. In the end, I can wholeheartedly say that the final result was worth every failed attempt that came before it. I know that a lot of people can only dream about witnessing the approach into Princess Juliana Airport through their own eyes, hence why it’s highly touted as a popular bucket list destination, but I’d be willing to bet that no one has even thought about juggling underneath a low flying plane before while there. Your move, World.

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