A mysterious and gigantic Russian Antonov An-124 cargo jet was spotted departing from SFO last week. An eyewitness reported to have peered out through the window at a rare site. They then saw a gigantic Russian Antonov An-124 cargo jet parked across the runways from airport terminals. At first the witness thought it was a one-time event, but they began hearing more about it from TravelSkills readers who have seen one or two of the behemoths over the last two weeks at SFO.
Out of curiosity, the witness enquired from the airport officials at SFO about the planes, but they only received vague replies. One of the airport officials said that the airport has had Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft making semi-regular appearances over the past week, at times they’ve had two of them simultaneously.
The curious eye witness also enquired why the mysterious plane was around, what they are transporting and where they are going. In response, the airport reported that the planes are coming from various locations, all for the same Bay Area company, adding that they didn’t have details on who was behind the Russian mystery plane. Reports indicate that there are so many Antonovs making their way at SFO, sometimes two a day. Aviation geeks are equally interested in what’s up with these big birds making regular appearances at SFO.
On Tuesday, the renowned flight tracking site/app FlightRadar24 shows one of the planes (VI4819) departing Leipzig, Germany for Milan on April 28. From Milan, it traveled to Goose Bay (Newfoundland), Canada, and from there it flew to SFO. From SFO, it flew to Kinston, North Carolina, (near the Atlantic coast), which boasts one of the longest runways in that part of the country. The plane then flew from Kinston to Nantes, France.
The same aviation enthusiast also reported that as they were walking their dogs, they spotted another Antonov flying over the city en route to SFO. They immediately fired up FlightRadar24 and found that the plane was (VI3022, RA82077) and it had originated from Tokyo and stopped over in Anchorage before arriving at SFO around 8 pm. According to the Airliners.net, which is a new string inquiring about the Antonov at SFO, one user speculated that the planes are in the Bay Area to pick up Teslas.
One of the planespotter near SFO was also surprised at his luck after seeing the Antonov and had the opportunity to shoot a video of it on April 24. Unlike the Airbus A380, the Antonov An-124 is slightly smaller, It is 226 feet long while the A380 is at 238 feet. And its wingspan is a bit narrower: 241 feet for the An124 vs 261 for the Airbus A380.
Reports indicate that the Antonovs at SFO are owned by Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which according to its website is the world leader in the specialist market of oversize and super-heavy cargo transportation. It also adds that its’ customers include governmental and commercial organizations, including leading global businesses in the oil and gas, energy, aerospace, agriculture and telecommunications industries as well as the humanitarian and emergency services sectors.
The Antonov An-124, can carry a payload of a whopping 150 tons! The Antonov website says, The AN-124 has been used to deliver 90 ton hydraulic turbines, the Liebherr large dimension mobile crane, the USA Euclid mine truck, the fuselage of the Tu-204 passenger aircraft, a 109 ton locomotive, General Electric GE90 aircraft engines, various combat vehicles, Lynx anti-submarine helicopters, a spaceship in its container and other unique cargoes. It rescued refugees and people suffered from natural disasters, transported tanks and Christmas trees, elite fast horses and cruise yachts, concert equipment and reconnaissance aircraft, banknotes and pure gold. Having that in mind, the plane can be called the most universal airplane in the industry.