THE largest aircraft in the world, the Antonov 225, landed at Palma airport yesterday to re-fuel its six engines.
Only two Antonov 225*s have ever been built and this is the second time in two years the giant aircraft has used Palma airport as a re-fuelling base.
Son San Joan is one of the few airports in Spain capable of handling the great aircraft which has 32 enormous landing wheels.
The aircraft, designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in Kiev, is on its way from Istanbul to Bangor, Maine, USA.
It landed at Son San Joan airport at 8.45 yesterday morning and took nearly three hours to refuel before taking off again. It will make one more stop, at the Azores, before reaching the United States.
The Antonov 225, the first of which took off on December 21, 1998, weighs 600 tonnes, is 84 metres long, 18.2 metres high (it stands seven storeys high and can fit eight average size houses inside its body), can carry a maximum payload of 250 tonnes and has a wingspan of 290 feet.
The reason it took some three hours to refuel yesterday is that it takes 17.000 gallons to fill her up.
The Antonov has a potential flying range of 8'000 miles.
The first Antonov An-225 Mriya (meaning dream) was designed initially to transport the Russian space shuttle Buran and its components from its service area to the launch site.
Since then however it has developed a hugely important commercial role as it is capable of airlifting cargos that no other aircraft in the world is capable of, hence a second aircraft was built.
The Antonov has been used for a vast range of commercial purposes.
It has flown trains, Michael Jackson's entourage to Europe for his last European tour, thousands of tonnes of aid for HIV child victims in Africa to the Formula 1 grand prix teams, their cars and equipment.
The world's largest plane caused a major sensation as she landed at Palma airport yesterday.
Hundreds of members of staff and plane spotters gathered at viewing points to catch a glimpse of the flying giant.
The next time the Antonov 225 touches down in Palma, might not be for another two years.
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