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How many strongmen does it take to pull the massive AN-225?

AskWaves found out how much manpower was required to set a Ukrainian national record

The AN-225 is an absolute behemoth, the largest and heaviest commercial cargo aircraft in the world. It has a payload of 275.6 tons. The one-and-only model is owned and operated by Antonov Airlines, based in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The Mriya, which means dream in Ukrainian, is so big and expensive to operate that it’s only used for special jobs like carrying huge electrical transformers and mobile power generators. It was originally built in the 1980s to transport rockets and space shuttles for the Soviet space program. 

Human airplane pulls are great charity fundraisers, but moving a Boeing 757 passenger plane is a walk in the park compared to the AN-225. Inquiring minds want to know: How many people does it take to move this megaplane and how quickly can they do it?

Eight — if they are beefy Ukrainian strongmen. The team moved the AN-225 14.1 feet in 73 seconds on Sept. 3, setting a national record. The plane, including fuel, weighed 361.6 tons. 

The AN-225’s nose gear allows it to “kneel” so it can load and unload more easily. The twin tail, with an oversized, swept-back horizontal stabilizer, enables the airplane to carry large, heavy external loads, which would normally disturb the airflow around a conventional tail.

The Mriya headlined Ukraine’s 30th Independence Day air show celebrations earlier in the week.

Antonov Airlines is a division of Antonov Co., a Ukrainian state-owned enterprise, which designs, develops, produces and maintains the AN aircraft.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at