When Orville and Wilbur Wright first sailed their heavier than air engine powered flying machine through the skies of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they could not have even begun to know about the impact that they would have on the planet in its entirety.
All of a sudden, a trip from New York City to San Francisco would take a matter of hours as opposed to months. A trip from Boston, MA to Bridgetown, Barbados (the two largest cities in the new world in the 1600s) used to take 2 months. Now, with the miracle that is powered flight, you can go on a tropical Bajan vacation from snowy Boston in less than five hours.
Powered flight has enabled the world economy to grow and become more interconnected. It has let humans from all over the planet share in each others’ knowledge, cultures, and religion to a scale never before seen.
Only a mere 66 years after the first human left the ground, the first human landed on the moon. Planes had already been a part of the international and national lexicon for decades. In fact, some of the largest planes ever built originated from around this beginning era of flight, at a time when it was still new enough that humans didn’t really have any real idea as to what they were doing.
But now, we have some truly enormous planes, planes which the Wright brothers would never believe would be able to fly (and which are hard for us to believe as well). Today we have planes that are so big that they can actually carry other planes. Planes that carry space shuttles. We even have planes capable of launching satellites into orbit.
We sure have come a long way from the canvas biplanes from the yearly days of yore.
This giant’s design and development started in 1971 by the Soviet Union as a strategic airlift plane, back in the early 1980s. Its first maiden flight was in 1982 and it’s still used today, although production stopped back in August 2014 thanks to the Ukrainian and Russian feud. It was designed primarily for carrying and delivering extremely heavy cargo. These days it’s one of the biggest production military crafts in the world and there are over 40 active planes mostly for commercial use.
It’s still the largest military aircraft to still be in use, and can carry up to 150 tonnes of cargo. That’s impressive stuff!