WATCH: Worlds Biggest Cargo Plane Departs Billings
ICYMI, the world's largest cargo plane, the Russian built Antonov AN-124 arrived in Billings yesterday. This morning (8/5) it took off from Billings Logan International airport, filled with firefighting supplies and equipment (including a fire fighting crew and a Chinook helicopter from Billings Flying Service), continuing on its journey to help deliver goods and personnel to Indonesia, where parts of the country are engulfed in wildfires. According to Phys.org, one region of the country declared a state of emergency in July due to hundreds of flare-ups.
The plane was scheduled to lift off from Billings at 10 a.m., and when we arrived atop the rims around 9:45 to get a good view, there were already hundreds of cars lining Airport Road, overflowing the little parking lot by the roadside and spilling over to other parking areas along the Rims.
We managed to find a great parking/viewing spot on the east side of the airport, directly at the end of the runway, where we were anticipating the oversized aircraft was going to take off. It would have been pretty disappointing if it ended up going west instead of east. Temperatures were starting to rise by the time the plane finally came thundering down the runway at approximately 11 a.m. I'm sure passerby's who weren't aware of the takeoff were wondering what the heck was going on with all the traffic and crowds in the area.
Finally, after waiting nearly an hour, we could spot the giant tail of the plane at the very far end of the runway and a faint cloud of fumes as the four massive jet engines began spooling up. I imagine the plane needed every foot of runway to get into the air. Turn up your volume and check it out:
It's tough to see exactly how huge the plane is from this perspective, but it's massive. The website Aerospace Technology says the plane can carry a payload up to 150 TONS.
The aircraft is designed for long-range delivery and airdropping of heavy and large-size cargo, including machines, equipment and troops. The aircraft is based on the An-124 Ruslan military transport in service in the Russian Army, which has the Nato reporting name Condor.
They add that the plane has broken 30 world records since 1989.