Learn about the world’s greatest flying machine – Antonov An-225

The original Antonov An-225 requirements warranted building the largest aircraft in the world. It was originally designed to function as a Russian Space Shuttle carrier aircraft, assisting the Buran space shuttle of the Soviet Space Program with transport.

 The plans were first laid out by thee Antonov Design Bureau in the early 1980s, but the first operational flight wouldn’t occur until December 21st, 1988. Only one An-225 was built; initial plans were to build several An-225s, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw the cancellation of the Buran space program and the associated Antonov contracts.

Despite this, a second craft was partially constructed – but never finished.Bigger than a Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, longer and heavier than the Hughes H-4 “Spruce Goose”, The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft developed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukraine and stands as the largest aircraft in the world. Known for its immense carrying capability, the An-225 can carry 550,000 lbs. internally or 440,000 lbs. on the upper fuselage. A behemoth with the sole mission to carry cargo, the An-225 requires six turbofan engines to keep its payload in the air. The aircraft has been created to perform the following missions: transportation of the wide-range of cargo (large-sized, heavy, long-size) with total weight up to 250 t.; intercontinental non-stop airlift of cargoes weighting 180−200 t; intercontinental airlift of cargoes with weight up to 150 t; transportation of a heavy large-size single pieces with weight up to 200 t on the external store. The An-225 features a whopping 32-wheel landing gear system, which you can get a pretty close look at in the following footage, and a wingspan nearly the length of a football field. It’s definitely a rare sight if you can catch a glimpse of this marvelous one-of-a-kind bird. 

This is one of the largest airplanes ever built, and certainly one of the largest still in service where it is used to carry massive payloads. Since it was built in 1988, the AN-225 is sort of a last hurrah for insane Soviet aircraft.

All Image credit goes to their original Photographers and owners.

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