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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.