While on holiday to Curacao with my family, I frequently visited the airport in search of interesting airplanes, here a personal note of one such visit:
It was early morning, the weather outside was already very hot and sticky, as I climbed into my Russian built rusty jeep. As I set off for the airport, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was steadily rising. My rental jeep was not equipped with an air-conditioning unit, so I turned down all the window to allow the wind to blow in. Driving along the narrow dusty roads passing numerous Antilles Dutch style houses I noted they where painted in a patchwork of bright colours. The rolling hills were covered with dry cactuses and wind shaped Divi-Divi trees. After a bumpy ride through this barren, but scenic countryside I finally arrived at Hato airport. After parking my jeep I walked to the open terminal and checked the big clock above the check-in counters, it was 08.45 hours…very early and in no hurry I still had plenty of time for some coffee and a spicy sandwich at the airport cafeteria.
Hato Airport or just Hato was built on the North side of the Island and has a single runway which runs alongside the rocky coastline. A single terminal building and a very modern control tower dominate the skyline. The large apron in front of the terminal is big enough to handle several wide-body jets simultaneously. Hato is home of Antillean Airlines (ALM). At the moment ALM offered scheduled jet services to many Caribbean destinations, such as Santo Domingo, Caracas, Port au Prince, Port of Spain, Kingston and Miami, using a fleet of colourful MD-80 twinjets. For the inter Island services to Aruba, Bonaire and St- Maarten ALM used two brand new Dash-8 series 300 turboprop aircrafts. They were replacing two worn-out Fairchild FH-227B which had been parked up in a deserted corner of the northern ramp awaiting sale. For its cargo routes ALM was using another turbo-prop aircraft in the shape of a Lockheed L-188C Electra. This palletised freighter was able to carry 14.500 kg (32.000 pounds) of cargo anywhere in the Caribbean. Painted in full ALM colours the L-188C was regularly seen at Miami international airport.
Also based at Hato military base were two maritime Fokker F-27s MPA operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force 336 Sqn. These two friendships performed sea, search and reconnaissance flights throughout the Dutch Caribbean Island.
Curacao is best known for its tourist industry and many international airlines such as KLM, TAP, BWIA, Air Belgium, Air Aruba, Avianca and Surinam airlines serve the Island. Between all the heavy jets several interesting and exotic cargo operators serve Hato airport and it was this phenomenon that attracted me to spend some time on the hot and sticky ramp instead on the beach! Twice a week Aerosucre SA DC-6 (HK-3301) would arrive with a load of freshly slaughtered prime Colombian meat destined for the best restaurants on the Island. This flight originated from Barranquilla and arrived late mornings at Hato. The meat was thrown out hand by hand into a refrigerated truck. Additionally an Aeroejecutivos Cargo DC-6 (YV-501C) would arrive from Miami for a fuel stop, bound for Caracas-Maiquetia International airport. Every so often Aerovenca DC-3 (YV-670C) would come in with its single DC-3 freighter. Check out some of my pictures here on the Hato ramp.