As aviation nerds know, the largest airplane in the world is—or rather, was—the Antonov AN-225 Mriya. With a wingspan of 88.4m (290 ft.), it stood 18.2m (59.7 ft.) tall and 85.3m (280 ft.) long and could haul around 350 tons.
Image: Vasiliy Koba, CC BY-SA 4.0
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
Originally created by the Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s to airlift Soviet spacecraft, it was mothballed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and stripped for parts. In 2001, it was restored and put into service by Antonov Airlines as the world’s go-to cargo plane for carrying absurdly heavy or large loads.
Image: mark steven, CC BY-SA 3.0
Wind turbine blades, a quartet of battle tanks each weighing 60-something tons, the entire fuselage of a Boeing 737, all of these things could fit within the Mriya’s cavernous cargo area. In 2009 it set the world record for carrying “The heaviest single piece ever flown,” according to Air Cargo News: “A generator for a gas power station [in] Armenia, [it] weighed in close to 190 metric tons.”
Image: Air Cargo News
Aviation enthusiasts would converge on airports where the Mriya was landing just to document it:
Videos like these are now proliferating on social media, following the news that the Mriya has been destroyed. It was parked at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine, outside of Kyiv. The Ukrainian edition of Radio Liberty reports that invading Russian forces rocketed the aircraft from attack helicopters.
Image: Ukrainian Military Drone 56-15 – Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Press Release, CC BY-SA 4.0
Mriya, in Ukrainian, means “Dream.”