Close call

4th September 1998 at 01:00
(Photograph) - If you go down to the beach today, you're sure of a big surprise. If you go down to the beach today you won't believe your eyes. They don't mention it in the brochures, but Air France's once-weekly, unwelcome fly-by has, perversely, become something of a tourist attraction on the Caribbean island of St Martin.

Planespotters get an eyeful but unsuspecting sunbathers - those who haven't noticed the discreet sign warning: "Low-flying and depart-ing aircraft blast can cause physical injury" - get sand kicked in their faces by the turbulence from the 250-ton jumbo jet as it passes 30 feet above their heads before touching down on the runway behind them.

In a way it's their own fault. The jet that is shattering their expensively acquired peace and quiet (a week's bed and breakfast at the island's top hotel can set you back a couple of thousand pounds) is probably the very same one that took them there. But that's the price you pay for package tourism.

Worldwide, air traffic has doubled in the past 10 years and is expected to do so again in the next decade. In England, campaigns against the building of the second runway at Manchester Airport and London Heathrow's terminal 5 have centred on the environmental effects at ground level, but the real damage is done way up in the sky. Vapour trails look pretty but high-flying aircraft also give off nitrous oxide, contributing to the greenhouse effect. Jet travel makes the world a smaller, warmer place. So, if it's tropical temperatures you're after, a day trip to Brighton might soon have to suffice.

Harvey McGavin

Turn to page 34 for Ted Wragg's Teaching Tips on the Big Picture

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today