Hundreds of people watch and take photos of the Antonov An-225, the heaviest plane ever built and with the largest wingspan currently in operation, land at Bangor International Airport on July 31. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The Antonov AN-225, the Ukrainian aircraft and world’s largest plane that Russian troops destroyed over the weekend, visited Bangor International Airport a number of times over the years.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a damaged aircraft hangar caused by recent airstrikes and heavy fighting in and near the Antonov Airport, in Hostomel, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. Credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies via AP

CNN reported on Sunday that the plane, which was undergoing maintenance at Gostomel Airport near Kyiv, was destroyed after the hangar it was in caught fire. Russian troops claim to have taken Gostomel during their invasion of Ukraine, and satellite images showed significant damage to the part of the hangar where the plane was stored. It’s not clear if the hangar was destroyed due to airstrikes, though CNN reported Russian airborne troops were taking position near the airport before the fires.

The Antonov AN-225 was built in what is now Ukraine in 1988, during the Soviet era. It has six jet engines and spans nearly the area of a football field, from nose to tail and wingtip to wingtip. The only plane with a larger wingspan to ever have been built was Howard Hughes’ famed “Spruce Goose,” also known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules, which only made one flight in 1947.

The Antonov landed at Bangor International Airport three times over the years, in 2003, 2015 and 2020. Its most recent visit, in July 2020, attracted hundreds of people to watch the mammoth plane land.

“This is the least of the tragedies in Ukraine right now but to us plane nerds, it’s like family,” said Tony Delmonaco on 3315 Aviation, the Bangor aviation page he runs on Facebook.

Ukraine’s foreign minister confirmed the destruction of the aircraft on Twitter on Sunday.

Only one Antonov was ever built, and during its 34 years of service it became a source of pride for the Ukrainian people, who dubbed it “Mriya,” or “Dream.” It went on a number of service missions around the world, including delivering relief supplies after the 2010 Haiti earthquakes, and delivering medical supplies to locations around the world during the pandemic.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gestures while speaking to media during a news conference with the world’s largest airplane, Ukrainian Antonov An-225 Mriya in the background at the Antonov aircraft factory in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 20, 2021. Credit: Efrem Lukatsky / AP

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.