The world's largest aircraft landed in Palma yesterday, en route from the United States to Algeria with a shipment of toys. The Russian-built Antonov An-225 Myria, which is code named “Cossack” by NATO, made the unscheduled stop in Palma for technical reasons, Son Sant Joan airport sources said yesterday, before continuing its journey. The Antonov is the largest aircraft ever to have taken off twice and when landing, relies on its 32-wheel landing gear system. While not a military aircraft, there is continual interest from military superpowers because of the aircraft's massive potential and ability of airlifting cargoes of up to 500.000 kilos - its maximum take-off weight is 600.000 kilos, 1'322'750 pounds. The aircraft, designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in Kiev, was initially built to transport the Russian space shuttle ”Buran” and its components from a service area to a launch site, but since the prototype took off for the first time on December 11, 1988 - commercial demand for the aircraft has risen. The Antonov has a wing span of 290 feet, is 275 feet long and is operated by a crew of seven. The aircraft has a maximum speed of 528 mph and a cruising speed of 497mph, with a maximum pay load it has a range of 4.500 kilometres. The Antonov dwarfs the United States's predecessors, the 1968 built Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and the Boeing 747 Shuttle carrier built in 1977. The huge Antonov Cossack was an impressive sight, sitting alone on the Palma runway yesterday and attracted a great deal of attention before it thundered down the runway and took off to complete its journey to North Africa.

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