MIAMI – One of the world’s largest aircraft visited London Stansted Airport (STN) on Monday. An Antonov AN-124 Ruslan operated by Antonov Airlines (ABD) came to pick up some special cargo. It is helping in the transport of a large racing boat to Auckland, New Zealand.

The boat, named ‘RB2’, will take part in America’s Cup beginning in March 2021. America’s Cup is a sailing match race with origins dating back to 1851. RB2 was built by INEOS Team UK, a sailing team based in Portsmouth, England.

The AN-124 receives RB2. Photo: Lloyd Images via INEOS Team UK

A Four-Day Journey

The Antonov AN-124 awaiting the special cargo at STN had flown in from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. RB2 was loaded onto the aircraft on September 28 and departed STN the same day.

The AN-124 is currently on day three of four of its trip to Auckland. On September 27, it arrived at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Today it departed DWC and had a second layover Juanda International Airport (SUB) in Sedati, Sidoarjo.

Tomorrow, the aircraft will depart SUB for Auckland Airport (AKL). This will be the last leg of its trip. Once it reaches its final destination, it will have traveled a total of around 11,000mi (17,703km).

RB2 in Portsmouth. Photo: Harry KH via INEOS Team UK

The Rugged Ruslan

The AN-124 is the smaller cousin of the famous Antonov AN-225 Mriya. Both the AN-124 and AN-225 are strategic airlift aircraft. This means that they are capable of quickly transporting equipment and personnel over long distances for military or humanitarian needs.

Not all airports can handle these enormous planes. They are much larger than usual freighters such as the Airbus A300-600F or Boeing 747-400F. Stansted, however, is a perfect fit for the AN-124.

“Stansted’s airfield infrastructure is world-class and designed to accommodate the largest commercial aircraft in operation,” a spokesperson from STN says. “The cargo handling teams have the expertise and extensive experience in dealing with complex and valuable loads to safely transport them across the globe.”

You can follow the AN-124’s whereabouts on Flightradar24.

Featured image: the INEOS TEAM UK America’s Cup race boat being towed onto an Antonov cargo plane at STN by the team’s new prototype INEOS ‘Grenadier’ 4×4 at the start of its journey to Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Lloyd Images/INEOS TEAM UK