Antonov 225: World's largest plane touches down in Shannon Airport
Thousands of people turn out to catch a glimpse of the giant aircraft
Thousands of people descended on Shannon Airport today to catch a glimpse of the world's largest aircraft, the Antonov 225.
The giant aircraft, which was built to carry the then Soviet Union’s space shuttle between launch sites, landed for a transit stop at 2:45am from Bangor International Airport.
Despite the early hour, hundreds of aviation fans were parked outside the airport to catch a glimpse of the giant as it came in to land.
By this evening, thousands of people endured the almost two mile-long, bumper-to-bumper traffic to see the plane.
A spokesperson told Independent.ie there was a 'huge reaction' to the presence of the Antonov 225.
"There was a steady flow of traffic this morning into the airport when the weather was bad, but by the time the weather cleared up the cars were bumper to bumper.
"There were literally thousands of people here to see the aircraft."
People lined the perimeter of the airport fence and the viewing gallery was full for the day.
“Last time it was here, in 2013, it landed during daylight hours and there were hundreds if not a couple of thousand people who came to see it. People stood on the roofs of vans just to be able to video it landing,” said Shannon Airport’s Operations Manager Niall Moloney.
“This time around it arrived in the middle of the night and we still had loads of people in the viewing area ahead of arrival.”
“There is only one Antonov 225 made and this is it so when it comes here people are very keen to see it.”
Built in 1988, the 32-wheeled beast requires a runway of between 3,000 and 3,500 metres to take off – making Shannon, at 3200 metres, the only airport in Ireland capable of handling the six-story high jet.
The aircraft is due to depart this evening at 10pm for Châteauroux Airport, France.
With a wing span wider than the Croke Park pitch, the Antonov 225 is 27 metres wider either side than the runway at Shannon.