3/22/1989: The AN-225’s Record-breaking Flight
History

3/22/1989: The AN-225’s Record-breaking Flight

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the Ukrainian flying behemoth Antonov An-225 set 110 new world records during a single flight in 1989.

With 156.3 tonnes of cargo on board, the records broken that day included speed along a closed route, an altitude record, and a weight-to-altitude record during the 3-hour and 45-minute flight.

According to Antonov Airlines, The AN-225 has set 214 national and 124 world records in its lifetime, including the transportation of the heaviest payload ever airlifted at 253,820 kg.

Antonov Airlines UR-82060 Antonov An-225 Mriya. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

Development


Christened the Myria or ‘Dream,’ the An-225 was developed in the early 1980s by the Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau. It was created initially to transport the ‘Buran’ Soviet space shuttle from their building site near Moscow to the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Its maiden flight took place on December 21, 1988, from the factory airfield in Svyatoshyn.

The jet has a 290-foot wingspan, with a maximum take-off weight of 640 tonnes. Depending on configuration and cargo, its range varied between 4,000 and 15,000 km. Its landing gear had some 32 wheels to support the immense loads it could carry. Inside was a special crane that could lift 30,000 kilograms.

The blades were transported from Tianjin, China to Skrydstrup, Denmark. (Photo: Antonov Company)

An Iconic Aircraft


Over the years, numerous other records have been broken by the AN-225. On August 11, 2009, it carried the heaviest single cargo item, a generator and its loading frame for a gas power plant in Armenia, weighing in at a whopping 189 tonnes. It also carried the world’s longest piece of cargo on June 11, 2010—two 42.1-meter wind turbine blades.

The AN-225 also set two Guinness World Records for the aircraft with the heaviest take-off weight and the largest wingspan of any aircraft flying. The one-of-a-kind airliner also appeared in Hollywood blockbuster movies, including 2012 and Fast and Furious.

The jet was always a crowd-pleaser, attracting attention at every airport it visited. Recently, the plane carried out various humanitarian missions across the globe, including transporting COVID-19 supplies.

Photo: Christian Winter/Airways

Destruction


Tragically, the aircraft was recently destroyed after a Russian attack on Antonov Airport (GML) during the Battle of Hostomel. ‘Myria’ was down for repairs at the specially constructed hangar when the attack happened.

Satellite imagery and further video evidence have shown considerable damage to the hangar and the jet. However, its owners have vowed to rebuild the type.


Featured image: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

author
Writer, aviation fanatic, plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
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