I love watching planes take off and land. Actually landing might be my favorite of the two. For me, it's pure delight. I love to go to watch the planes land at LAX where you can stand below one of the approach runways (I've written about this before). And as you drive down the 405 freeway you're often able to have one of the big jets fly right above you on its way to landing. I cannot get over the awe of seeing these mammoth flying buildings (because, really, that's what they are) so low to the ground.
Clearly I am not alone. And holy crap, Maho Beach on the island of St. Maarten puts my little standing spot at LAX to shame! I think I would be terrified and thrilled at the same time to be sitting on this beach. I'm actually sort of shocked you're even allowed to get that close. Its crazy, dangerous, but yes, I would definitely be one of the spectators.
Because the runway is so short, planes need to touchdown as early as possible and therefore fly at minimal altitude on approach. At take off they position themselves at the very end of the runway (right across the street from the beach) to take advantage of all of the short runway. As they fire up the jets, the beach goers get some sand in their eyes and tend to tumble over, to say the least. There is even a sign posted basically telling you this is not a good idea.
This is a very round-about way of saying that I was immediately taken by the photography of Thomas Prior whose work I found via 20x200. The shots at Maho Beach were part of a series dealing with dangerous recreation in beautiful places.
I am deathly afraid of fireworks (and spiders, just want to throw that in there) and cannot even begin to imagine wanting to stand in a large crowd while fireworks are being shot at me. I just don't get it. I would rather stand under an landing airplane. To each their own, right?