The World’s Largest Plane Turns 30

Dec 22, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Dec. 21 marked 30 years since the Antonov AN-225 first took to the air. During those past three decades, the aircraft, operated by Antonov Airlines and used to move super heavy payloads all over the world, has seen its ups and downs — but today enjoys a special place in the aviation world.

Antonov AN-225.

Known as Mriya — Ukrainian for dream — the plane holds a number of world records and draws huge crowds any time it arrives or leaves a destination. By any measure you could safely call it a super rare aircraft — there is only one operational AN-225 in the world — making an encounter a real treat for plane spotters and AvGeeks. TPG‘s own JT Genter got up close and personal with the AN-225 back in April.

JT in the AN-225 cockpit

The history of the world’s largest plane has been less than smooth flying during the last 30 years. The aircraft was originally designed to transport the Buran spaceplane — essentially a Soviet knockoff of the US space shuttle. After the collapse of the USSR, the AN-225 saw its engines removed and got the mothball treatment for the next eight years. The aircraft got new life when Antonov saw a need to move larger cargo that its AN-124s — a smaller version of the AN-225 — couldn’t handle. The AN-225 was retrofitted in the late ’90s and had its six power plants remounted. The behemoth then entered service for Antonov moving cargo all over the world.

The AN-225 touts some impressive stats. Its landing gear is made up of 32 wheels, its pressurized cargo hold is 46,000 cubic feet, and it’s longer than the Wright brothers’ entire first flight at more than 142 feet. The gargantuan plane is powered by six Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofans mounted under its 290-foot wingspan. (What about the Airbus A380, though? Isn’t that one the biggest in the world? It is, but only as far as passenger planes go.)

It may soon lose its title, however, as the largest flying aircraft, assuming Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch can actually get airborne. Whether it continues to hold that title or not, it’s sure to retain a special place with AvGeeks everywhere, including those here at TPG. Happy 30th birthday, Mriya!

All images by JT Genter/The Points Guy

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.