A triumph of Soviet engineering, the Antonov An-225 Mriya is the largest and heaviest operational plane ever built. It was designed to haul Buran space shuttle parts that were too massive for any existing aircraft to carry. The first and (as it turned out) only Mriya took flight in 1988. While a total success, its construction had proven difficult and costly. Therefore the second one was put on hold after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, though recent efforts are rumored to have brought it close to completion at last.
This gargantuan craft measures over 80 meters in both wingspan and length. Six turbofan engines power its flight, and it maneuvers on 32 wheels while grounded. Unusually, it lacks a rear loading ramp, so cargo is brought on board through the nose instead. It has remained operational since its maiden flight, first for the Soviet Union and then for Ukraine, the place it was manufactured. The hold of this unique leviathan has transported civilian, military, and humanitarian goods across the world.