A Short History On Saba’s Airport
[Saba] airport’s risky reputation arises from the airport’s physical position: it is flanked on one side by high hills; and on the runway’s other side and both ends, cliffs drop into the sea. Additionally, the runway at the airport is extremely short (400m ); this creates the possibility that an airplane could under/overshoot the runway during landing or takeoff and end up in the sea or dashed on the rocky cliffs.
For those of you who saw the video blog a couple weeks ago with the plane taking off, the description above may amplify the concern about landing or taking off in Saba, but the airport’s had no fatalities or crashes in its 50 years of operation. This is the second or third incarnation of the airport, as the first couple terminal buildings blew down in hurricanes, most recently Hurricane Lenny in 1999. Flat Point was cleared of rocks by Saban folks in 1959 for a landing by pilot Remy F De Haenan to prove Saba could support aircraft, and it officially opened in 1963. Due to its length, it only supports a couple commercial short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft and helicopters, of course. The airport is named for Juancho E. Yrausquin, a prominent Dutch politician for the Antilles in the 1950’s.
There are normally only 4 WinAir flights a day, except during major holidays, when the students from the university fly out and they ramp it up considerably (10-12), but the net of it is, the sound of planes over Saba is generally rare, except at 7am, 10am, 1pm, and 5pm. Moreover, I can’t recall having ever heard a jet overhead. This contributes the the general peace and quiet on this isle I cherish.