One of the great advantages on-demand (more commonly referred to as “charter”) flying has over working at the airlines is the destinations. It’s not uncommon for charter pilots to visit some of the world’s most glorious locations. Instead of flying to Bakersfield, Palm Springs, and Fresno, I go to Nassau, Honolulu, and southern France.
Naturally, not every trip is blessed with locales of that caliber. Those that are sometimes come with long-haul flights which cross a half-dozen or more time zones and can take jet lag to an unenviable level. But there’s little doubt that the ends are worth the means.
Of course, alighting in Aspen or Nassau doesn’t mean much unless you get to stick around for a while and enjoy it. Thankfully, a charter gig sometimes provides that opportunity. Over the past year, I’ve had multi-day layovers in Jackson Hole, Kona, Manhattan, London, the Bahamas, Cleveland (don’t laugh — it was for the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction!) and other such places.
The most recent addition to the list is the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. This was my first time in the Netherlands Antilles, and we were able to enjoy three full days in paradise eating, sunning, and relaxing in perfect weather. I had only known St. Maarten as the place with the crazy beach airport. If you haven’t seen video of this, the runway pavement starts about 50 feet from the surf, and that 50 is taken by a two lane public road and popular beach.
Anyway, St. Maarten was fantastic. The best part? I flew home on Thanksgiving, thinking there was no way I’d get to enjoy any of the holiday, but my wife and her family re-convened late on Thanksgiving evening to give me an opportunity to enjoy a slightly belated meal of traditional Turkey Day delicacies.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop rambling here and let my iPhone 5’s camera do the talking.