There are only 2 of them in the world and one landed at Melbourne International Airport on March 4th, 2011. I’m referring to the Soviet Antonov An-225 pictured above which is the world’s largest airplane. Originally designed for the Russian space program to carry the Buran orbiter, which looks a lot like our soon to be decommissioned Space Shuttle, the An 225 was at the Melbourne Florida airport in early March 2011 to transport an undisclosed cargo to an undisclosed location.
Whatever the world’s largest plane was transporting, it must have been large and heavy because the An 225 can carry an enormous cargo up to 550,000 pounds on the inside or 440,000 pounds on the fuselage. The plane has carried the heaviest cargo ever transported via air freight when it delivered a 416,900 pound generator for a power plant in Armenia, and it has also flown the world’s longest piece of air freight when it flew 2 138 foot long wind turbine blades from China to Denmark.
The plane’s wingspan is 290 feet, just 10 feet short of the length of a football field and it is 60 feet or 6 stories tall. Powered by 6 ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans producing 51,000 pounds of thrust each, the plane needs an 11,500 foot runway to take off with a full payload. Of course that brings up the question, how did the An 225 land and then take off again at Melbourne Airport which has a runway of only 10,181 feet? Apparently the cargo was large, but not large enough for the maximum length of runway needed. I didn’t know Melbourne Intl could handle aircraft this large because I thought the runway wasn’t thick enough. Apparently I was mistaken.
Thanks goes out to Bill Crotts who took these amazing pictures and was kind enough to let me use them here on the Melbourne Palm Bay Living site. You can view more of Bill’s beautiful nature and landscape work on his photography website here.
Check out the additional pictures of the Antonov An-225 below: