A US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III landing at PJIA on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Mark Martelly.
AIRPORT–Plane spotters on Maho Beach had a special treat on Sunday afternoon, as a United States (US) Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft made an unscheduled refuelling stop at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
The large military transport plane roared out of the sky and landed safely at PJIA sometime after 3:00pm Sunday. It was supposed to take on fuel elsewhere in the region, but had to be diverted to St. Maarten due to inclement conditions at its original destination.
While their aircraft was refuelling on the airport’s tarmac, the crew – still donning their military uniforms – went over to Sunset Beach Bar to relax in the cool sea breeze. There they interacted with several persons, including a member of The Daily Herald team.
The US Air Force plane left St. Maarten around 6:00pm, just as the sun was setting. One of the crew members said the aircraft’s final destination is Guam, an unincorporated US territory in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean.
Originally colonised by Spain, the US captured Guam in June 1898 during the Spanish-American War. After the US won the war later that year, Spain ceded the island group to the US under the Treaty of Paris.
Guam has been a strategic American military asset since World War II, and the US still maintains Naval and Air Force bases on the islands up to today.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III was developed for the US Air Force from 1981 to the early 1990s. It is capable of carrying payloads of up to 76,657 kilogrammes (kg) and can land fully loaded on less than 3,000 feet. Besides the US, the aircraft is also used by the armed forces of India, United Kingdom (UK), Australia, Canada, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait.