The mighty Antonov An-225 ‘Mriya’ is known for being the world’s heaviest aircraft. The awe-inspiring majesty of its sheer size draws extensive attention wherever it goes. Yesterday, it flew into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK, attracting a crowd of enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of the giant. However, its departure was a little on the destructive side.
Why was the An-225 at Brize Norton?
Avgeeks local to RAF Brize Norton are no strangers to large and powerful aircraft. The base hosts military transporters such as the Airbus A400M, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. However, the station, which is the largest in the Royal Air Force, hosted an aircraft yesterday that dwarfs these otherwise hefty models.
— Matt Smart (@MattSmartie999) June 24, 2021
We are, of course, talking about the colossal Antonov An-225. This one-off Ukrainian aircraft, which boasts six engines and a whopping 32 wheels, touched down in West Oxfordshire yesterday with a special delivery for the RAF. According to AeroTime, it transported three Puma helicopters back to the UK as part of the RAF’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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Data from RadarBox.com shows that the second leg of this journey took the An-225 and its cargo directly from Karachi, Pakistan to Brize Norton. It departed Karachi yesterday at 08:37 local time, touching down in West Oxfordshire 10 hours and six minutes later at 14:43.
A destructive departure
While the An-225 would have felt right at home among Brize Norton’s other heavyweight transporters, it barely spent more than four hours on the ground there. With its cargo offloaded, it left the base at 18:54, with a crowd of avgeeks on hand to watch it depart.
However, as you can see in the video above, the enthusiasts got more than they bargained for. It goes without saying that the An-225 is an immensely powerful aircraft. This was exemplified when the sheer force of its departure from Brize Norton’s 3,050-meter long runway 07/25 caused part of its perimeter fence to collapse in front of the planespotters.
Thankfully, Aerotime reports that there were no injuries as a result of what could have been a dangerous incident. We can see at the end of the clip that the police were quickly on the scene to secure the breached perimeter, by which time the An-225 had roared away into the skies. Simple Flying has reached out to RAF Brize Norton for a statement.
Back to base
Having left Brize Norton, the An-225 first climbed westward, passing close to another RAF base, namely Fairford. It then turned back on itself, eventually heading almost directly eastward on a heading that took it over the Netherlands and Germany.
The aircraft’s destination was Kyiv’s Hostomel Airport (GML), where Antonov Airlines, the An-225’s owner and operator, is based. It touched down there at 23:59 local time, after a flight that lasted three hours and five minutes. Its mission to Afghanistan and the UK appears to have been its first since last August. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.
What do you make of this incident? Did you see the An-225 on its recent trip to the UK? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.