The world’s largest cargo aircraft came in for a landing at Oakland International Airport earlier this week. The Antonov An-225 “Mriya” (“Dream”) flew non-stop from its home base in Ukraine to Oakland on an emergency flight to pick up disaster relief supplies. The flight was made in anticipation of Typhoon Mangkhut, which hit Guam yesterday.
The An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlifter designed in the 1980s to support the Soviet space program. The Soviets needed an extra-large aircraft to ferry the space shuttle Buran from landing zones back to its home base. The American Space Shuttle used a modified 747 for this task, but Antonov built a far heavier, more powerful, longer ranged aircraft. Only one Mriya was ever built.
Mriya is absolutely huge. The aircraft stands 59 feet tall, has a wingspan of 290 feet, and is 275 feet long. The aircraft has 16 pairs of landing wheels. Six Progress D-18T turbofan engines enable the plane to carry up to 326 tons of fuel and cargo at a time. The cargo hold is 142 feet long, 21 feet wide, and 14 feet high—plenty of room for activities.
According to FlightRadar24, the An-225 took off on September 9th from Antonov’s headquarters at Gostomel, Ukraine and flew non-stop on a path that took it over Belarus, Finland, Norway, Greenland, Canada, and finally the United States. The flight took nearly thirteen hours.
The big, big aircraft flew into Oakland to pick up 140 tons of U.S. Military Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), water, and other disaster relief supplies. The weight of the cargo cut the range of the aircraft down so that it had to make a fuel stopover in Honolulu before continuing on to Guam. The aircraft arrived before Typhoon Mangkhut arrived, dropped off its cargo, and departed.
The flight required an exemption from government flight regulations to make the trip. The filed on Antonov’s behalf claims, “No U.S. air carrier can offer a comparable solution, and no other airplane in the fleet of Antonov or any other air carrier can match the capacity and flexibility that a single AN-225 flight can offer.”