Big Bird Takes to the Skies Following an 18-Month Hiatus
During a time when grim news is seemingly only accompanied by more grim news, we caught a break when word spread that the Antonov An-225, a strategic cargo airplane, was back in action. Following an 18-month hiatus, many were left wondering if Antonov’s massive aircraft would ever grace the skies again. When an alert from Flightradar24 announced that the Antonov An-225 was coming out of retirement, aviation enthusiasts everywhere were elated.
In October of 2018, this 600,000-pound cargo craft underwent an arduous maintenance and upgrade program. While little news was released during its downtime, many quickly spread the good word when the Antonov An-225 dusted off its 290-foot wings. Aptly nicknamed Mriya, which translates to dream, the Antonov An-225 boasts impressive dimensions and capabilities. Over the last 30 years, Mriya has taken audiences by storm with its outlandish lifting capabilities and thoughtfully designed shape.
As the heaviest aircraft in the world, it comes as no surprise that the An-225 can lift up to 550,000 pounds. To date, the largest item that it’s transported is a generator, which came in at a whopping 417,000 pounds. Due to its unprecedented abilities, Antonov’s groundbreaking innovation is highly sought-after by heavy industries, governments, and even the U.S. military. Given its unparalleled performance, aviation lovers and laymen alike are keen to understand how this aircraft does what it does.
Expertly crafted with a vertical stabilizer, slouching wings, turbofan engines, a fly-by-wire control system, 32 wheels, and hydraulics, the An-225 is fully equipped to bear heavy cargo. To assist with loading items, the nose can also lower. All of these attentive details and features contribute to Mriya’s excellence. Ironically, the An-225 doesn’t have rear cargo access, which is typical of most planes. Even still, this magnificent specimen is in a league of its own. It’s for this reason why March was an exciting time for An-225 fanatics.
On March 25, the Antonov An-225 lifted off from Kyiv, The Ukraine, which is where its home airport is based. It’s presumed that this was a test flight to ensure that the aircraft was primed to return to service. The duration of the trip was two hours. During this time, Mriya completed two laps above the Ukrainian countryside, subsequently returning to the airport. Unfortunately, it’ll always be a waiting game when it comes to tracking the aircraft.
Since Antonov doesn’t publish its schedule, An-225 trackers are left to their own devices. In most cases, this involves relying on aircraft flight tracking information to relay the news. The Antonov An-225, specifically, is notorious for popping up in lesser-known locations, including pockets of West Africa, remote corners of South America, and the vast interior of Australia. This makes it even more difficult for people to get a live viewing of the show. Fortunately, the An-225 does travel to more accessible areas, ranging from popular European destinations to famous American cities.
While many are thrilled that Mriya is back up and running, the reasons for which are rather dreadful. The current economic and health crisis has led to an increased demand for emergency supplies. The An-225 is often enlisted during natural disasters, so it only makes sense that it’s being called on during a global pandemic. Experts anticipate the An-225 seeing a lot of action in the coming months. To see Mriya work her magic, check the status using real-time flight trackers like Flightradar24 or FlightView.
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