Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sky Giants

It has been a while since my last post. My apologies to regular readers (if indeed there are any).

The A380 finally took to the skies last week and more importantly landed in one piece. A great job by all involved. The first flight was touted as the most significant event in commercial aviation since the first flights of Concorde and the Boeing 747. The A380 is an impressive aircraft no doubt however I think once it is in the air it looks a lot like "any other plane". It is certainly not as distinctive as the Concorde or the Boeing 747 were when they first took to the skies.

There appears to be a misconception in some quarters that this is the biggest aircraft in the world. I have compiled a list of the 5 biggest aircraft ever built (purely because I have nothing better to do at the moment). It is difficult to compare aircraft sizes as some have a bigger wing span and others greater length etc. I have used wing span as the measure for my list.

1. Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose"
Wingspan: 319 ft 11 in (97.54 m)
Length: 218 ft 8 in (66.65 m)

Believe it or not this aircraft still holds the record for the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built. Those who have seen the "The Aviator" will probably be familiar with it. Although it only flew once and never really got beyond ground effect flight it still deserves to be mentioned.

2.Antonov 225 "Mriya"
Wing Span 290 feet (88.4m)
Length 275 feet, 7 inches (84m)

Built by the Antonov Company based in Ukraine and first flown in 1988 this aircraft was designed to transport the Russian space shuttle Buran and is currently the largest aircraft in the world still in service. There is only one aircraft in use today and is used to transport oversized cargo/freight. Demand for this aircraft has been quite high and there is talk of building another one of these monsters.

3. Airbus A380
Wingspan 261 ft 10 in (79.8 m)
Length 239 ft 6 in (73 m)

Enough has been said about this airplane.

4. Antonov 124 "Condor"
Wingspan: 240 ft 5 in (73.3 m)
Length: 226 ft 3 in (69 m)

Again built by the Antonov company it was first flown in 1982. This is a popular heavy lift transport aircraft with approximately 50 to 60 having been built. The 6 engined Antonov 225 is a derivative of the 4 engined Antonov 124.

5. Lockheed C5 Galaxy
Wingspan 222.9 ft (67.89 m )
Length 247.1 ft (75.3 m )

Built by Lockheed and first flown in 1968 this is currently the largest aircraft in the US Air Force inventory and is used as a military transport.

Trying to get back to blogging mode after a long break is always difficult! I will try and post something more interesting next time.



Blogger Shreyan said...

Well, look who's back! Thanks for that informative piece, Mr Aviator. I did have a notion that the A380 was not the largest yet, and you've done well by confirming it. Always on the button, you are :)

I've heard that there have been a few *really* ugly aircraft built, especially transport planes with bulging noses. Can you enlighten us with the names of some of these distinguished aircraft (in your opinion)?

1:21 AM  
Blogger jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn said...

Great stuff...nice to see you actively blogging on airplanes again.

I can think of atleast one more airplane with a huge span - the Kalinin K-7 (ANT-20T) "Maxim Gorky" (some 62+ metres)...

Another airplane which comes to the mind is the Aerovironment Pathfinder (or was it Helios) which is a huge all-wing airplane...

A-380 is very impressive indeed, however, even the old Lockheed Constellation looked more radical - it designed by Hughes after all. However as a purposeful airplane, the A-380 is a huge step forward.

If I am right the C-17 Globemaster is in the same category as the C-5A.

What about rotorcraft and the Fairey Rotodyne? Surely that was a Sky Giant! :-)

4:46 AM  
Blogger jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn said...


One of the transport airplanes which was decidedly ugly was the C-124. Another was the French Guppy. There are other ugly airplanes I know, one of them being the Sud Ouest Vatour Bomber...a very ugly airplan indeed. :D

4:48 AM  
Blogger The Unknown Aviator said...

Thanks for your interesting comments Rajesh.

1. Kalinin K-7: I had never heard of this aircraft but I did a quick search and it is certainly a fascinating aircraft considering it was built in the 30s.

2. NASA: The unmanned solar powered all wing aeroplanes you mentioned also have a large span (Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus, Centurion, Helios). Helios is the largest with a 247 ft span which makes it larger (at least span wise) than the Antonov 124! Thanks for pointing it out.

3. The Fairey Rotodyne Helicopter: I have been meaning to write something purely on helicopters soon and will definitely write about this one.


11:40 AM  

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