Geoff Hibbert's 2009 blogGAR Entries

NOV 03 2009
Antonov An-225 in the East Midlands

Donít get me wrong, I was enjoying the magnificent opulence of my surroundings, marvelling at the magnitude of such an engineering feat, soaking up the atmosphere and of course, appreciating the 24 hour buffet. Four days later, the inclement weather appeared to have shrunk my clothes as they all seemed very much tighter. Iím not sure how that happened?

I kept getting the texts though. ďSheís due at 1915Ē. Well, itís dark by then, I thought. She did turn up at 1855 on Friday, 23rd October, 2009 and yes, it was dark. The aircraft came from Edmonton, Canada, on its way back to Kiev, Ukraine.

Since her last visit to EMA, this unique aircraft has had a major overhaul and a repaint. Resplendent in her new blue and yellow stripes, to reflect the national colours of its Ukranian home, she really does look good.

Iíve seen this aircraft three times now (almost four but my God it was foggy the penultimate time she came in) but she still has a massive draw for me.

This aircraft is special, she's unique (as the only flying example). First flown in December 1988 and at 84m long, 88.2m wide and 18.2m high, sheís just huge.

On Tuesday 27th October 2009 at around 1100 the nose of the aircraft lifted and the crew pushed and heaved the massive tow bar back into the hold of the aircraft. Shortly after the nose was closed the lovely sound of the ZMDB engines could be heard, droning like a huge lorry engine as they came to life.

As she trundled down the runway for her departure, the wings hung over the edge of the runway. This aircraft is like a Thunderbird to me, with six engines it looks like something I drew as a child.

Standing at the Donington Park end of the runway (09 end) I did hope that she hadnít lifted before she came over the hill. Being empty and with over 309,000lbs of thrust available, she lifted just at the hump in the runway.

It was an amazing sight and sound, enjoyed Iím sure by the several hundred enthusiasts who had travelled from far and wide to see her go.

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