Update: The page below shows Anguilla's airport when it was still "Wallblake." Today, it is the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport. More on the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport here.
LAX, JFK, ORD, AXA. Three out of the four burst with hustle, bustle, and hub-bub.
The other? AXA, the Anguilla Airport, is like Anguilla itself... small, slow, and perfect.
Los Angeles, New York and Chicago... every airport at every major city... they all wind you up with high-pitched energy and running around.
AXA slows you right back down. The Anguilla Wallblake Airport is a great way to start your Anguilla vacation... or end it.
In a way, it's a symbol of the Anguilla experience.
If you visit the Anguilla airport today, you will still come across a charming little airport. I have left my original report about Anguilla's pre-2005 teeny, tiny airport (below).
Click here for the 2005 Anguilla airport update, as well as new strategies for getting to Anguilla faster and cheaper.
Keep reading below for a Wallblake Airport "time capsule". The feeling is still the same -- the runway just "grew up."
Wallblake -- the Anguilla Airport
(By the way, AXA hats from Irie Life make great souvenirs. My Dad's obsessed with them!)
The Anguilla airport is so much like the island itself. Small, modest, warm, friendly, -- it makes flying a pleasure. However, it's not so much fun that you forget that you're leaving Anguilla of course!
A funny story about AXA...
The St. Martin airport, Princess Juliana International Airport, is not like AXA. It bustles, receiving 747s daily from France and jumbos from around the world. It is also set in a volcanic mountain island.
So, if you were flying a jumbo jet, I'm pretty sure you could tell the difference between busy, big Juliana amongst the lush, volcanic island St. Martin and the one-runway airport set in the flat, desert-like terrain of Anguilla.
Piece of cake, right?
Yes, except for one not-so-sharp Air France pilot.
A while back, he was cruising along, hauling his 747 in for landing, on...
St. Martin? No.
The Teeny Airport of Anguilla!
Anguilla Airport's runway is only about 1,000 feet long, just enough for the turbo props to land. (They are lengthening it, though, since American Eagle is switching to regional jets.)
At the end of the runway? Homes.
So guess what happens when an aircraft that is as big as the entire Anguilla airport tries to land there?
At a few hundred feet of elevation, everyone on the island hears the screaming engines. They look skyward. They hold their breaths.
Luckily, the pilot must suddenly have realized...
"Wait a second. Where are the mountains? Why is this runway so short."
He pulled up just in time, before ploughing Anguilla.
It's a funny story now, but it obviously would have been a major disaster. The pilot was fired, and people still refer to it as the day Anguilla almost received its first 747.
There has been talk on Anguilla about expanding its airport to receive jumbo jets.
What a mistake that would be. Part of the charm of Anguilla is the little bit of work you have to do get here.
The Anguilla airport represents Anguilla in so many ways. I hope to see it survive with serene simplicity.
2010 Anguilla Airport Update: July 4 2010 marks a significant change in Anguilla airport history. The Anguilla airport's name has been changed. "Wallblake Airport" is no more! Click here to read the Anguilla airport 2010 update.