Earlier this year, the world’s largest plane—the Ukrainian AN-225 Mriya—was destroyed in a hangar at Gostomel Airport in Ukraine during fighting between the country’s forces and the Russian military. This week, London-based air charter 26Aviation released its tribute video to the aircraft, showing the plane’s final flight just weeks before it was hit.
The charter traveled to Denmark to retrieve the footage from the flight. It was also the plane’s last commercial voyage, bringing medical supplies to Denmark from China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, carrying over 1,900 pounds.
In the video the team recalls arranging the final charter leaving from Tianjin, China. “Fittingly, Mriya carried life-saving humanitarian cargo to help those in need,” one of the members says. The aircraft held 127 world aviation records—one of the many reasons why it was so revered. It also held the Guinness World Record for the highest painting exhibition on the planet.
The gigantic 33-year-old aircraft was first unveiled in the Cold-War era and was initially intended to carry the Soviet space shuttle, Buran. However, by the early nineties, it had been transformed into a commercial cargo transport. With a 290-foot wingspan and six Ivchenko Progress D-18 turbofan engines, it could fly up to 250 tons of material for around five hours. Its nickname Mriya means “dream” in Ukrainian.
“We were lucky enough to get a front row seat on the side of the runway just where the aircraft lifted off,” reps from 26Aviation told Robb Report.
“While the flight was one of the most exciting charter flights we have ever been involved with, our tribute video is intended to celebrate the end of an icon which has created memories for endless aviation professionals and enthusiasts alike during its 34 years of service.”
In May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced they would begin building a second Antonov AN-225 Mriya to replace the first in honor of the country’s fallen. U.S-based company Stratolaunch is currently developing a unique twin-fuselage jet that will be similar in size in California, but heavier and with greater wingspan.