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Hey Ernie, I got to get up-close and personal with the world's largest airplane this weekend, in Peoria, IL. My dad was in our back yard, on the banks of the Illinois River, when he saw this behemoth fly overhead. He had a feeling it was something special, so we jumped in the car and cruised over to the Peoria International Airport, hoping to catch a glimpse of it on the tarmac. We ended up with three different vantage points of it, the first about 500 yards away, behind a chain link fence (that's the picture from the rear), the second about 200 yards away (the pictures with the nose closed), and the third, my pops convinced a state trooper to drive us out onto the runway! We only had about 5 minutes on the runway with it, because they were starting to load it up. Between the second round of pictures and the drive out with the trooper, they opened the nose up, and lowered the whole plane down about 4 feet. As soon as we got out there, they were unfolding the ramp, and the trucks were pulling up. We weren't 100% sure at the time, but the seven trailer-sized generators were obviously being loaded quickly, at no expense spared, for some emergency...we surmised for relief in Sumatra. This was confirmed the next day in the papers. The Antonov AN-225 was built by the Russians in the '80's to transport their space shuttle, and while it has a smaller wingspan than the Spruce Goose (by 29 feet), it's overall length and bulk make it the largest airplane in the world. Oh, and this is the only one ever made! Best regards, love the site. -Doug
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