33 YEARS AGO, THE AN-225 “MRIYA” TOOK TO THE SKY FOR THE FIRST TIME AND SINCE THEN HAS SET MORE THAN 200 WORLD RECORDS. WE RECALL THE HISTORY OF THE LARGEST PLANE IN THE WORLD – IN 15 PHOTOS (ARCHIVE MATERIAL)

On December 21, 1988, the first flight of the test model of the world’s largest An-225 Mriya transport aircraft, created by the Kyiv Antonov plant, took place. Initially, it was built for the space industry – it could transport rockets and serve as a “launch pad” for spaceships. But the USSR collapsed, and “Mria” was preserved in a hangar until the end of the 1990s. In the early 2000s, it was reconstructed and modified for the transportation of heavy and oversized cargo, for example, locomotives or multi-ton generators. And “Mria” was often used to quickly deliver humanitarian goods. There was only one copy of An-225. But he has already entered history, setting about 250 world records for speed, height, and carrying capacity. The Russian occupiers destroyed the “Mriya” at Gostomel airport near Kyiv in the first days of the large-scale invasion of Ukraine. But the enterprise “Antonov” alreadylaunched a fundraiser to restore the plane. “Babel” recalls the history of the world’s largest plane in 15 photos.

 

The development of the aircraft began in 1985. The chief designer of the project was Viktor Tolmachov. In the photo: General Director of the Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex named after O. Antonov Petro Balabuev, who managed all the development of An series aircraft, demonstrates the An-225 model during a press conference on December 2, 1988.

 

The development was completed in a record short time – in 3.5 years. In the photo: A meeting dedicated to the completion of the construction of the An-225 “Mriya” aircraft at the “Kyiv Aviation Production Association” (now State Enterprise “Antonov”), November 1988.

 

The An-124 “Ruslan” became the basis for the development of the new aircraft – before the appearance of the “Mriya”, it was the largest aircraft in the world. In the photo: An-225 “Mriya” aircraft in the hangar, November 30, 1988.

 

“Mriya” is still the largest transport aircraft in the world. Here are some of its characteristics: wingspan — 88.4 meters, length — 84 meters, height — 18.2 meters, can lift about 250,000 kilograms of cargo. In the photo: An-225 “Mriya” aircraft near the hangar, November 30, 1988.

 

For the first time, the “Dream” was lifted into the air by the crew led by test pilot Oleksandr Galunenko. In the photo: A meeting dedicated to the first test flight of the An-225 “Mriya” aircraft at the “Kyiv Aviation Production Association” (now Antonov State Enterprise), December 21, 1988.

 

In the photo: An-225 “Mriya” aircraft with “Buran” caused a real sensation at the 38th International Aerospace Salon in Le Bourget, France, June 1989.

 

In March 1989, the “Dream” with a cargo of 156.3 tons took off and in 3 hours and 45 minutes of flight set 110 world records for speed, height, and carrying capacity. In the photo: An-225 “Mriya” at the International Air Show in Farnborough, Great Britain, 1990.

 

The European Space Agency also wanted to use the “Dream” as a “flying spaceport”. In the photo: Layout of the aviation and space system, including the Mriya aircraft and the Interim HOTOL reusable spacecraft of the British Aerospace company, 1990.

 

After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the only working An-225 was sent to the hangar. Engines were removed from it in order to use them on An-124 “Ruslan” aircraft. It was only at the end of the 1990s that the decommissioned An-225 was decided to be reconstructed and put back into service for the transportation of heavy cargo. The first flight of the restored “Mria” took place on May 7, 2001. In the photo: Flight of “Mriya” at the air show in Moscow, August 14, 2001.

 

In January 2002, Mriya made its first commercial flight. Since then, the plane is often used to deliver large-sized cargo: locomotives, multi-ton generators, long wind turbine blades. And “Mriya” is often used for prompt delivery of humanitarian goods. Pictured: British musician Bono gives a speech against the backdrop of the An-225 Dream, which will deliver Christmas gifts to HIV/AIDS patients in Africa, on the runway of an airport in New York on December 10, 2002.

 

In the photo: Members of the French rescue team unload 150 tons of humanitarian aid from the “Mria” to the victims of the earthquake in Japan, March 25, 2011.

 

“Dream” managed to visit many countries and all continents, except Antarctica. In the photo: An-225 made a commercial flight to Australia, carrying a generator with equipment with a total weight of 130 tons from Prague to the city of Perth, on May 15, 2016.

 

With the start of the coronavirus pandemic, “Mriya” delivered medicines, medical equipment and protective equipment all over the world. Pictured : German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (left) welcomes a shipment of medical masks delivered by an An-225 aircraft on April 27, 2020.

 

Before the Russians destroyed the plane, the An-225 “Mriya” continued to set world records, about 250 of them gathered. In the photo: “Mriya” flies over Khreshchatyk in Kyiv during the parade for the 30th anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine, August 24, 2021.