"Mriya on short final in Ostrava Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Mriya on short final in Ostrava – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

There are many items still left on my AvGeek bucket list, but last week I was fortunate enough to cross a pretty BIG one off.

I was very excited to be invited to witness the arrival of the world’s largest aircraft ever produced, the mighty Antonov An-225. Nicknamed “Mriya”, which is the Ukranian word for dream. The aircraft first flew in 1988 and is the only plane of its kind in service today. There was a second model built to about 70% completion, but due to funding problems it remains in a desolate state in Kiev.

"Touchdown!! The whole landing sequence seemed very slow motion due to the aircraft size Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Touchdown!! The whole landing sequence seemed very slow-motion due to the aircraft size – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The original mission scope of the aircraft was to carry the soviet spacecraft Buran, much like the American version of the 747-based Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aircraft remained in storage for almost a decade before it was brought back into operational service as a cargo air-lifter, operated by Antonov Airlines. Mriya is primarily based in Kiev, Ukraine but has completed various missions all around the world.

" Colossal yet somehow majestic Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Colossal, yet somehow majestic – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Mriya was scheduled to make a series of three flights from Ostrava Airport in the east of Czech Republic. Once the schedule was released, I realized that I would only have one chance to get some decent shots, as two of the three flights were scheduled to take place during darkness.

" Gradually coming to a stop after using over 3/4 of the runway Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Thrust reversers and spoilers working overtime to bring the beast to a stop – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

There was much fanfare at Ostrava Airport, and I estimate close to 200-300 spotters came out for the arrival, not just from Czech Republic but also from Poland and Slovakia. It always amazes me the amount of enthusiasm that is clearly present in the Czech population for all things aviation.

" Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Taxing – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

I was fortunate enough to be on the other side of the fence, as one of my friends works at the airport. Thanks to this unique access, I was able to not only get some amazing shots of the aircraft, but also partake in assisting my friend with the preparation for the arrival of this beast. As there was about four inches of snow on the aprons, I got to witness first-hand the complex and demanding task of snow clearing.

" Not a bad looking rear end Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Not a bad looking rear end – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

"The unique rudder design of the AN-225 to improve air-flow when carrying Buran Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

The unique rudder design of the AN-225, to improve airflow when carrying Buran – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" Today the AN-225 is operated as a cargo transporter by Antonov Airlines Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Today the AN-225 is operated as a cargo transporter by Antonov Airlines – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" It really is massive! Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

It really is massive! – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" Time to fee Mriya Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Time to feed Mriya – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" Interesting view of the cockpit when the nose is open Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Interesting view of the cockpit when the nose is open – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" There are a total of 32 wheels on the AN-225 Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

There are a total of 32 wheels on the AN-225 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" One of the six ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofan engines powering Mriya delivering 51,600 pounds of thrust each! Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

One of six ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofan engines powering Mriya, delivering 51,600 pounds of thrust each! – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" What an awesome view Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

What an awesome view – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" Mriya looks beautiful from any angle Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

Mriya looks beautiful from any angle – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

" My favourite part of the aircraft, the twin rudder Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

My favorite part of the aircraft, the twin rudder – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

It was truly an awe-inspiring experience to be able to see this colossal, yet somehow majestic, aircraft up-close.  This really goes down as one of my best AvGeek experiences to date!

Note: For the best viewing experience, be sure to click on each photo for the full resolution image to be displayed.

" One very happy #AvGeek Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter "

The author: one very happy #AvGeek – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

 

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC A native of Australia, Jacob’s interest in aviation first came about as a child going on a long-haul flight between Australia and Europe to visit relatives. In addition to being a pilot himself, he has worked in operations for a charter airline, been on-the-ramp handling aircraft, worked as a slot coordinator for major airports, and currently works as an aircraft charter broker for corporate and VIP clients throughout Eastern Europe. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys photography, plane spotting, and travel. Email: [email protected].

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7 Comments

Sadly I think the current conflict in the Ukraine is casting a shadow over Antonov’s future. I hope when things settle down that the Ukranian government look to help Antonov form a partnership with a Western aviation company (Boeing/Airbus/Bombardier/Embraer) and get them to adopt more Western business practices.

I think that is the only real future for them as it won’t be long before the Russians cut them off. Imagine one of these beasts powered by GE or RR engines and with Western avionics. With a Western partner Antonov could build on its strengths as a manufacturer of rugged airlifters and reach out to a wider market. There was a good article in the NYTimes recently that discusses the current state of affairs at Antonov if anyone is interested.

Maybe then we will see the second An-225 get finished. I believe at least $300 million is required to finish it. Surely in this big wide world there is enough demand for a second aircraft.

Minneapolis

The AN-225 was at MSP for almost an entire week this past summer. Was pretty sweet! It’s departure kept getting delayed by days because it was too hot and humid here for it to take off.

I felt lucky enough to actually be visiting family at MSP during its visit and was able to stop by and see. What a massive beast!

David, AirlineReporter

WOW ~ Massive, yet still majestic, and FAR BETTER-LOOKING than the A380 .. .. =-O!

Loving these great shots of the king of the vodka burners! Thanks, JP!

I was able to see this some years ago when it was at Boeing Field. Awesome aircraft.

Great post, thank you! Here is another great photo shoot of the Mriya, including many internal and during flight photos: http://gelio.livejournal.com/193025.html

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