Massive cargo plane picks up 18 Cessnas at Mid-Continent

12/20/2013 10:26 AM

12/21/2013 9:30 AM

Mid-Continent Airport welcomed back one of the world’s largest cargo aircraft, Russia’s Antonov An-124, in frigid temperatures Friday afternoon.

“There it is,” shouted airport officials as the plane approached the runway from the south just after noon on Friday.

The plane will deliver 18 Cessna 172 Skyhawks to a flight school in Moscow. The Skyhawk — assembled in Independence and placed in crates for shipping — is considered the world’s most popular aircraft, according to Cessna Aircraft’s website.

A gray, cold sky served as a backdrop to the Antonov An-124. As it sat on the tarmac to begin the loading process, a Skyhawk passed by to shoot photos. Its size paled in comparison to the cargo plane, which is more than 200-feet long and also has a wingspan of more than 200 feet.

This isn’t the first visit of an Antonov An-124 to Wichita. A cargo plane in the Antonov fleet picked up a windmill part from Mid-Continent a few months ago and makes visits a few times a year for various businesses.

The plane specializes in the delivery of oversized cargo and vehicles. Its maximum payload is 240,000 pounds.

The plane is scheduled to depart at 9 a.m. Saturday, if weather allows.

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