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September 18, 2014

World’s largest airplane turning heads at MSP

The largest airplane in the world is drawing attention as it sits at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Antonov AN-225 Mriya has a wingspan of 225 feet and can carry up to 550,000 pounds, which is the equivalent of three fully-loaded Boeing 737s – or seven humpback whales, officials told CTV News Edmonton.

It’s about the length of a football field, which is two-and-a-half times as long as a Boeing 737 – and longer than the distance of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, the Witchita Business Journal notes.

The Ukrainian-built aircraft was originally designed in the 1980s to transport the Russian space shuttles and booster rocket, but since 2002 it has been used to carry extra-large cargo commercially, Airlines.net says.

The Mriya, which means “dream” in Ukrainian, has been in the Twin Cities since Sunday. It hasn’t been confirmed why this large aircraft is parked on the tarmac, but the Star Tribune and FOX 9 say the Mriya arrived in Minnesota to pick up large air conditioners, likely from Twin Cities-based Trane, and then it will make a stop in France or Switzerland before dropping the cargo off in the Middle East.

If you want to try to get a glimpse of the aircraft before it departs, media reports are saying that it’s grounded until Wednesday, possibly because of paperwork issues.

Photographer and web developer Nick Benson snapped some photos of the aircraft during flight and as it sat at the Twin Cities airport.

MPR News says Tyler Hastings of Hudson, Wisconsin, got an up-close look at the plane. Check out his video:

Before stopping in the Twin Cities, the aircraft was in the United Kingdom and Canada.