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.
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.