Russian giant descended on Hedland

Daneka HillNorth West Telegraph
Shane Black, the groundhandler for the Antonov during its visit, photographed the plan with both the ramp and nose opened up.
Camera IconShane Black, the groundhandler for the Antonov during its visit, photographed the plan with both the ramp and nose opened up. Credit: Picture: Daneka Hill

The Pilbara is no stranger to big things — gigantic trucks, enormous trains and larger than life boats — but rarely do these things descend from the sky.

A 24-wheel Antonov-124-100, the largest civil cargo aircraft in the world, touched down at Port Hedland International Airport on June 1, drawing a keen crowd who did not miss the chance to take a snap.

Airport crew had to rush to clear the runway of the dirt and rocks thrown about while the flight from Bali scheduled to land directly afterwards was forced to circle above.

The Antonov-124-100 arrived from Kuala Lumpar where it had been waiting for its next job
Camera IconThe Antonov-124-100 arrived from Kuala Lumpar where it had been waiting for its next job Credit: Daneka Hill

Port Hedland International Airport general manager Rod Evans said the airport was visited by an Antonov-124-100 about once a year as the 12 planes in operation lapped the world.

“They are generally used by high-profile companies who need urgent movement of oversized freight,” Mr Evans said.

“Its a very small market.”

Phil Stanaitis photographs the plane as its engines cool down
Camera IconPhil Stanaitis photographs the plane as its engines cool down Credit: Daneka Hill

The Antonov was designed in Ukraine while it was part of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and all 12 planes are managed by Russian airline Volga-Dnepr.

The plane can fly up to 120 tonnes of cargo and was in the Pilbara to pick up three helicopters.

The plane can open from both the back and the nose, and the visit was the first time an Antonov had opened both ends while in Port Hedland.

The PHIA has hosted giant aircraft in the past, including the Ilyunshin-76 and military transporters such as the Safari Hercules L100-30.

(This article was printed June 12, 2019)

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