A giant Antonov AN-225 Mriya airlift cargo plane fought crosswinds to land safely in Perth, Western Australia, where some 20,000 people had gathered to see the world’s largest aircraft.
The thousands of excited onlookers couldn’t help but cheer in amazement as the Soviet-designed cargo plane fought crosswinds while preparing to touch down on Sunday morning.
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The Ukrainian Antonov An-225, also the heaviest plane in the world, measures over 275 ft (84 meters) from nose to tail and 290 ft (88 meters) from wing tip to wing tip. It can carry twice as much as the Boeing 747 freighter.
“It’s the equivalent of a five-story plane flying through the air,” aviation fanatic Henton Harmadi told the West Australian.
The plane’s top speed is 528 miles per hour (850km/h) and it’s so big it can comfortably accommodate a space shuttle on its roof. Actually, it’s what it was supposed to do according to early projects: serve as a mid-air space launch pad to save on rocket fuel and logistics. The plans never came to fruition, though.
The Antonov’s arrival in Australia drew huge crowds, clogging up roads near the airport. “I can’t recall anything like it in Perth – ever! It’s like the Woodstock of planes,” Brendan Foster reported in WA Today.
Road traffic congestion in Perth meant some passionate plane spotters missed the eagerly anticipated arrival. Some motorists even abandoned their cars on the nearby motorway in their rush to make it to the landing in time.
Other enthusiasts camped in their cars overnight to ensure a front row seat.
Tonkin HW jammed. Perth trying to get to the airport to see the world’s biggest plane land about 11am @9NewsPerth pic.twitter.com/6totSXz0AT
— Elly Cormack (@EllyCormack) May 15, 2016
People just leaving cars on side of freeway. No hope of getting into airport to see worlds biggest plane. pic.twitter.com/bZEa9NwV4q
— Brendan foster (@BrendanfFoster) May 15, 2016
After much anticipation, the giant of the skies has touched down in Perth. Welcome to Australia #AN225 Mriya! pic.twitter.com/Mm6sKRQgBz
— Perth Airport (@PerthAirport) May 15, 2016
The An-225, which was transporting a 117-tonne generator from the Czech capital Prague, will stay in Perth until it flies to Germany on Tuesday.
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