The plane that made it exciting to look up again

  1. Listen All Things Considered: Bob Collins discusses the Antonov 225

    July 3, 2014

No doubt there are plenty of people who couldn’t care any less that a really large airplane — the world’s largest ever built — took off into a beautiful sunset at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday evening.

But for thousands of others, the reaction to the four-day stay of the Antonov 225 was a stirring reminder of the magnificence of flight and the human mind that allows it to happen.

It’s a rare thing, not far removed from when the world watched men land on the moon, mostly lost now in the mundane routine of commercial flight. We are only occasionally stirred anymore to step back and admire what is possible. The Wright Brothers first flight could have taken place entirely in the Antonov 225’s cargo bay.

Parents dragged their kids to the airport, a reminder of generations past when youngsters would hang at the local airstrip, hoping someone would offer a ride.

Now? We hardly even look up.

But for an evening, we were generations in awe again.

Photo: Nick Benson Photo: Nick Benson

More video here.

  • Bonnie

    That was indeed awesome. Thanks! How did the spectators 1) know where to go and 2) have permission to be where they were at time of takeoff?

    • Educated guess based on winds, which was 8 knots from compass 330. Runway 30L (oriented to compass 300).is the second longest and widest runway at MSP so it seemed like a logical choice.

      But for an hour or so, Twitter was on fire with this gamble over which runway it would use and,hence, where the best viewing spot would be.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        Thanks again for posting this and the insight on which runway it might use. As of this afternoon it’s over 3,200 views. YouTube analytics are slow but I’m guessing much of that came from News Cut.

        • kevinfromminneapolis

          To circle back, News Cut came in 5th. Thru 20,000 views, two Ukranian news sites account for half the traffic (and a string of comments). Then Repackaging The News and Jalopnik, then News Cut.

    • Nick Benson

      There are a number of locations that are public around the airport which can be used to watch airplanes coming and going. Google “airplane spotting MSP” and you’ll find several good resources.

  • carriecnm

    Thanks for this. Tried to get there but couldn’t make it and our kids were disappointed. Glad to be able to show them the video atleast.

  • Jim Gray

    I have an awesome story about this plane. It came to Oshkosh one year along with a few other Russian military planes. I was about 11 years old. It was parked nose to nose with a C-5. At night, all the american military planes had armed guards. None of the Russian aircraft did. Being a young, dumb kid, I decided to check it out at about midnight. The american guards watched as I crawled all over it. I found my way into a hatch above the main gear. I climbed a ladder. I opened the hatch on top and found myself in the crew quarters. 3 guys were playing cards as 2 others were sleeping nearby. They looked at me… I waved at them… Then i got out of there like my life depended on it, which it may have. One of my favorite Oshkosh memories.

  • andy

    I used to live near Lake Nokomis and never got tired of looking up at any and all airplanes that buzzed our houses. It must have been very cool to see that big-boy land and take off.

  • PaulJ

    To what did we owe the honor of the visit?

    • It was picking up air conditioning equipment from Trane. It flew in empty on Saturday from Edmonton after it delivered a giant European generator to Alberta’s fertilizer plant, which apparently is the largest such plant in North America.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Cool stuff. The first video is great. I didn’t realize from where I was how long the nose gear was off the ground. Thanks for including my video. That location made the rollout look really slow, I enjoyed when the woman said maybe it’s just too heavy.

    • It’s particularly interesting to me how many people don’t really understand how a plane flies.

      Poor Mr. Bernoulli

      • Les.Tracking

        I watched it fly by and I still don’t know how that beast flies.

        • Cliff note version. It goes fast enough (193 mph. compared to 186 for a 737) so that the air flows over the wings faster than the air flows under the wings (hence the curved wings), which creates a lower pressure above the wings than below. So it gets sucked into the air, pretty much the same way your house door gets pulled shut when it’s windy outside.

          Personally, I can’t figure out how they pay to keep it flying.

          • Les.Tracking

            pssssst….It was a joke 🙂

          • Carol S.

            Well, I appreciated the explanation. To my eyes it just doesn’t look like its going anywhere near fast enough to get off the ground.

          • Very true. That thing didn’t appear to take flight! Then it did. I still have fond memories of the first c37 flight in California.

          • brian

            To be snarky:

          • You know xkcd is wrong there, though, right? And that’s it not that complicated and the Bernoulli principle IS at work when a plane flies upside down? and that the early planes couldn’t fly upside down because of this fact?

            Hey, you started it! :*)

          • brian

            You would know better than I! After a more careful reading, I think maybe he has a problem with the ” the air on top travels a longer distance, and so must move faster” argument and not the more general “Bernoulli’s principle is how it works” one. I guess I believed him wothout really thinking about it. Because aren’t stunt plane wings usually pretty “flat”, right?
            Anyway, sorry for hijacking the comment thread. Great post!

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            It flies by transferring the weight of the plane from its wheels to its wings. Simple as that.

          • Hillary

            I used to work with a former freight forwarder who really wanted to charter this plane.

            It’s incredibly expensive, but it’s cheaper than seven figure liquidated damages due to late delivery. 😉

  • Jeff C.

    Video number three makes me wonder… All those people are witnessing something that they will probably never see in-person again. They are also witnessing something that has been videoed and put on YouTube hundreds (thousands?) of times. Many of those videos were made with high-quality cameras and are well-produced. So why video it with your crappy phone camera and watch it through your tiny screen while paying attention to the movie you are making instead of immersing yourself in the experience that is happening in-front of you, paying attention to the details that you won’t experience again like the smells, the sounds around you, the feel of the wind, the heat of the exhaust, etc.? Experience life and then watch someone else’s video if you want to see it again.

    • I found the comments of kids on the videos to be even more poignant than anything else.

      To your point, check out this video and the sound of the young child trying to tell his dad something.

    • kevinfromminneapolis

      Since I shot that I’ll take a stab at it. I’ve noticed that I don’t remember things as well when I watch them through my camera so I’ve learned to put the camera in front of my face and let it move as I move. That way I can watch with my eyes and get the video. If you go to other ones of mine on the YouTube page it’s the same way. I missed it a little with the 744 that landed right on my head, but can’t forget the piercing whine of the engines and practically being able to see its rivets.

  • Megan

    This was extraordinarily loud over our South Minneapolis home. I am not a fan.

    • kevinfromminneapolis

      Probably because it had three times as many engines as a normal plane. Luckily for you it is a rare occurrence. 🙂

    • Chris

      Live somewhere else.

  • I’ve got images of the Antonov from when it landed on Saturday if anyone is interested: