Hundreds of people gathered along Odlin Road and Maine Avenue in Bangor on Friday afternoon to watch the largest plane in the world land at Bangor International Airport.
It’s not the first time that the Antonov An-225, the heaviest plane ever built and with the largest wingspan currently in operation, has landed at BIA. The Ukrainian aircraft previously landed in Bangor in 2003 and in 2015.
But the crowd that gathered to see the plane, the only one of its kind still operating, was a common type of gathering around the perimeter of the airport to witness the latest notable aircraft to land in the Queen City.
Zach Gasaway of Bangor said he heard about the plane landing on the Facebook page of the Ground Round restaurant on Odlin Road, and he brought his two children, his niece and nephew, and their grandmother to watch.
“I’d never actually heard of this plane before,” Gasaway said. “We thought it would be kind of cool to see it land.”
The plane, a cargo aircraft operated by Ukraine-based Antonov Airlines, departed Gostomel Airport near Kiev at 7:59 p.m. July 30 Eastern European Summer Time, and traveled 4,280 miles to arrive in Bangor at 1:04 p.m. July 31. Built in the 1980s, it spans nearly the area of a football field, from nose to tail and wingtip to wingtip. It has six jet engines and four stabilizers.
Bangor aviation expert Anthony Delmonaco, who operates the popular 3315 Aviation Facebook page, said that the plane is set to head to Glasgow, Scotland next. It’s not known why exactly the plane landed in Bangor, but Delmonaco said it was likely for cargo.
“[The Antonov An-225] has been doing COVID-19 supply runs lately, but I’m not sure if this is one of them,” Delmonaco said.
Only the Airbus 380, a passenger aircraft, rivals the Antonov An-225 as far as size goes; it can also carry about the same payload. The Airbus 380 has only landed at BIA once, in 2016, when a flight was diverted. The only plane with a larger wingspan to ever have been built was Howard Hughes’ famed “Spruce Goose,” also known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules, which only made one flight in 1947.