A PLANE purpose built to transport a shuttle for the Soviet space programme landed in Shannon Airport this week, drawing gasps from the large numbers of plane-spotters awaiting its arrival.
The Antonov AN-225 Mriya, now transformed into the world’s largest single carrier of air cargo, landed in Shannon at lunchtime on Tuesday, bound for the Ukraine.
The ‘Dream’, which is the world’s largest aircraft and has set in excess of 250 aviation records, landed in the airport as part of a standard crew rest period, en route from Bangor Airport in Maine, USA.
The aircraft was returning to Shannon after previously landing at the airport in 2006. As Shannon has a runway of 3200 metres long, it can accommodate the monster plane and is the only airport in Ireland that can do so.
Shannon Airport Head of Operations Niall Maloney said that the Antonov 225 attracted large numbers of people, all keen for a glimpse at a plane coming in at the weight of 220 average sized cars.
“It is an unbelievable aircraft that almost defies the law of physics and when you see it coming in it is a fantastic sight,” he marvelled.
“We had it here twice before but the interest in this flying machine never diminishes.
“There was a lot of talk across the internet and social media about its arrival over the last 24 hours so we weren’t surprised to see people here waiting but were surprised to see so many. It’s an aviation enthusiasts’ dream,” he added.
The plane, which once carried wind turbine blades measured at 42m long from China to Denmark, departed this Wednesday night.