Watch This: Antonov An-225 Mriya, World’s Heaviest Aircraft, Breaks Perimeter Fence At RAF Brize Norton

An-225 Brize Norton
Some screenshots of the "incident" at RAF Brize Norton where an An-225 sort of broke a perimeter fence on take off on Jun. 24, 2021. (Image credit: Aviation Highlights)

This is what happens when you are a bit too close to an An-225 Mriya.

Designed at the end of Cold War to carry the Soviet “Buran” space shuttle and parts of the “Energiya” carrier-rocket between space facilities in the former Soviet Union, the only built Antonov An-225 Mriya (NATO reporting name: Cossack), registration UR-82060, is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft.

The aircraft, that made its first flight on Dec. 21, 1988, is operated by Antonov Airlines, an Antonov Company’s subdivision that specializes in international cargo transportation.The airlines’ fleet includes one An-225 Mriya, seven An-124-100 Ruslans, one An-22 Antei, two An-12s one An-26 and one An-74T. Every year Antonov Airlines carries hundreds of thousands of tons of unique cargoes, including those which can not be transported otherwise, to 800 airports across the world. Both the AN-225 and the -124 are often chartered by NATO (including British, Danish, Dutch and Italian armed forces) and used to transport helicopters all around the world.

With a maximum take off weight of 640,000 kg (max payload 250,000 kg) the Mriya is the world’s heaviest aircraft. It is not the largest aircraft ever built – this title belongs to the Hughes H-4 Spruce Goose hydroplane, an aircraft which made only a single flight. The Antonov’s name – Mriya – means “Dream” in Ukrainian language.

According to Antonov Airlines website:

The AN-225 entered commercial service in 2001. Since then, it has operated flights all over the world carrying cargoes such as electrical transformers and mobile power generators. It also continues to support worldwide peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

The aircraft’s service life has been extended, meaning that the AN-225 will remain in operation until at least 2033.

Based on Antonov’s AN-124 design, the AN-225 saw fuselage barrel extensions added fore and aft of the wings. The An-225 also uses the AN-124-100’s nose gear, which allows it to ‘kneel’ so that cargo can be easily loaded and unloaded. However, unlike the AN-124-100, which has a rear cargo door and ramp, the AN-225’s empennage design was changed from a single vertical stabilizer, to a twin tail with an oversized, swept-back horizontal stabilizer. This twin tail enabled the aircraft to carry large, heavy external loads, which would normally disturb the airflow around a conventional tail.

The AN-225’s cargo compartment can be pressurized, extending the aircraft’s transport capabilities. Its onboard cargo handling equipment, plus the design of the forward cargo door and its integral ramp, also ensure quick and easy loading/unloading operations.

On Jun. 24, 2021, the An-225 visited RAF Brize Norton coming from Karachi for a mission in support of NATO forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

After dropping off its load (three RAF Puma helicopters) the Mriya departed again and its 6 turbofan engines broke the fence where several photographers and cameramen were taking shots and filming the take-off of the massive 6-engine aircraft.

The following video, posted to Youtube by Aviation Highlights shows the whole scene: pretty impressive.

The scene reminded me of a famous incident that occurred on arrival day at RIAT Cottesmore in 2001. Some photographers and aircraft spotters were at the perimeter fence on the northeastern side of the airport next to the runway 23 threshold. A B-1B Lancer 86-0104, 34th Bomb Squadron, taxied to the holding point of runway 23, entered the runway and lined-up. As the pilot pushed the throttles to the stop, to full afterburner, exhaust gases reached the spotters assembled just a few meters behind the American bomber. Heat haze hit the photographers, some of those barely manage to escape the jet blast: some were burnt, others slightly injured cuts and bruises, others simply shocked. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt.

Fences and people were also blown in a more recent incident, at Kleine Brogel Air Base, Belgium, on Sept. 14, 2019, when a Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker taxied before take off during the Spotter Day for Sanicole Airshow 2019.

H/T Steve Fortson for the heads-up!

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.