Late October I discovered that I still had some holiday time left before the years end. Not really knowing what to do, I decided to check the internet for some cheap deals. I found low-priced fares to Curacao, Dutch Antilles. Having been born in Curacao I fancied a couple of days in the tropics for some sea and sun. So on the 13th of November I found myself onboard a KLM MD11 jetting towards the equator. My plan was to take it easy, drive around the Island in search of little towns and secluded beaches and meet up with some family members.
The main town of Curacao, Willemstad is an extremely pleasant area to walk through and soak up some Caribbean atmosphere. Most of the waterfront buildings and shops are painted up in an array of pastel colours and create a special tropical atmosphere. The floating bridge connects both sides of the city Punda and Otrabanda.
The airport of Curacao, which is now called: Curacao International Airport, is also know as Hato Airport, is still a place to see numerous interesting airplanes. Hato airport has a single runway 11/29 at 3410 meters long and has a large terminal and cargo facility. The airport lies on the northern coastline and it serves as a hub for the Caribbean and South American region. Its history goes back from the early 1930 when KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started flying to the Antilles with Fokker Tri-motors. Up until 2006 the old terminal building was used, and then the new terminal with air bridges opened up to the public. Local airlines based at Hato are Insel Air, Divi Divi Air, DAE (Dutch Antilles express) and Tiara Air. Dutch airlines which serve Hato are: KLM, Martinair and Arkefly. KLM is the only airline which has a daily schedule from Amsterdam to Curacao.
During my visit I noted several South American airlines operating first generation jets. Daily arrivals are Avianca (MD80), Aserca (DC-9-30s), Avior (B737-200 series) and Conviasa (B737-200/300s). As for the cargo scene I noticed Líneas Aéreas Suramericanas (LAS) Colombia (B727-100s) and Cargolux (747-400s) parked on the ramp
The U.S. military has three Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) in Latin America and the Caribbean; one of them is at Hato Airport. The FOLs are strategic, locations which allow U.S. and partner nation aircraft the use of existing airfields in support of the region’s multinational counter-drug operations. During my visit I found several E-3A Sentry AWACS, KC-135R tanker, C17 Globemaster and a single Boeing VC-25A on the huge ramp While in Curacao I decided to visit the neighbouring Island of Aruba, and check out the local atmosphere. In front of the airport terminal, on a busy round about, resides a derelict bare metal DC-3, which I was planning to visit. Going through the airport schedules for Aruba I found a small company called Tiara Air, which was flying between the Islands with two Short 360 turboprop aircrafts. I visited its ticket office inside Hato old terminal and purchased a round trip fare to Aruba for 125 us dollars….but that’s another story!
Photo location A:
This is situated next to the open check in terminal. It’s a short walk and there is a fence and crash gate from where these pictures where taken in the afternoon with a 70-300 mm lens.
Photo location B:
This is more difficult area to reach and you need a car. When you exit the airport take a right-hand turn towards the Marine base. Take a right-hand turn and follow the dirt track on your left. This will take you to the end of the runway. Beware of potholes and sharp stones!
Photo location C: from the terminal, be cautious of double glass windows.