“MOAP?”, you ask. No, it’s not the Mother of all Parties (Even though it is Mother’s Day, and I’m sure Mom would like a party – with chocolate, and maybe some wine!). MOAP? – Mob of Angry Peasants – uh, no, not at all. If I see one of those, I’m going to reverse course and head the opposite direction, fast! I googled MOAP and found the internet had a few other rather colorful, if not creative, definitions. However, the MOAP I’m talking about is the Mother of All Planes! And, every few years the MOAP lands at Bangor International Airport.
Her name is Mriya. Meaning dream in Ukrainian. And, she is the Mother of All Planes – the largest airplane in the world. The last time she was here was in April of 2015. And, as always, she drew quite a crowd! How majestic and amazing it is to watch as she lands, or takes to the sky. Even as her six ginormous engines start, it shakes the Earth! Awesome is what this M.O.A.P is.
The airplane I’m talking about is the Antonov AN-225, Mriya. Designed in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, she is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft. In addition to being the largest airplane, she is also the longest and heaviest airplane ever built. Able to transport a payload in excess of 551,000 pounds, she has set records (240 to be exact!) for the cargo she has carried. This includes entire helicopters, multiple fighter jets, trains, heavy construction equipment, and yachts! Or, she can carry 50 cars – all in the same load! And, she can also carry a space shuttle (on her “roof”). Mriya was initially built for transporting the Buran space shuttle (think our U.S. space shuttle and add some Russian lettering on the fuselage).
To understand the size of the cargo area – imagine this: the pressurized cargo area is longer than the first flight of the Wright Brothers! The area for cargo measures 21 feet wide, by 14 feet high, by 142 feet long! And, that’s just the area for cargo. The aircraft itself is 275 feet long with a wingspan of 290 feet! From the ground she sits almost 60 feet high, shy only a few inches at 59 feet, 5 inches. With cargo, her takeoff weight is a whopping 1,410,958 pounds! And her performance in the air is not bad, considering her large stature – maximum speed of 459 knots (528 mph) and cruise speed of 432 knots (497 mph). That thrust is produced by six Progress D-18T turbofan engines. How far can she go without refueling? Between 2,500 miles and 9,500 miles depending upon how much cargo she is carrying – not bad at all. And, her landing gear – contains 32 wheels! Through the nose gear design, she even “kneels” so her cargo can be loaded easier.
I had the opportunity to see this prolific airplane takeoff in 2012 in Bangor. It was quite the experience! I watched as she was readied for takeoff, including a thorough deicing. That, you will notice, is the orange fluid on the wings and fuselage visible in some of my photos. And, if you’re now wondering why it’s orange – well, it’s so you can tell where the fluid has been, and to differentiate from Type IV de-icing fluid, which is green. (Type 1 Fluid is orange). And, on that day in March of 2012, Mriya was “drinking” a lot of orange fluid given her sheer size! At upwards of $10-12 a gallon, that’s a big bill to keep this bird flying in cold weather!
Then came the “earthquake,” as each of the six engines rumbled to life, sending a little smoke up as each engine awakened. The Earth shook and a low, deep and guttural sound gripped my ears – the bass was just turned up; she roared!
AN-225 engine start in BGR.
After a lengthy runup time, she lumbered to the end of the runway – and slowly, but surely, took to the sky. Her wings flexed and she seemed to float, as she departed Bangor.
Today, the AN-225 Mriya is operated by Antonov Airlines. Oh, and if you want to transport cargo aboard her or charter her for a grand Mother’s Day party, get out your checkbook (credit cards, 401K, first-born, etc.) because the cost is $30,000 an hour!!!!! Keep your eyes to the sky, and hopefully someday soon the AN-225 will land again in Bangor. Seeing this MOAP is definitely an opportunity you don’t want to pass up!
Research and more information about the AN-225 “M.O.A.P”