Two of the most popular questions, at least for pilots and other students of aviation history, are: What are the top 10 planes of all time, and which one’s the greatest of them all?
Seems impossible, but we think we did it. Here’s how.
We started with a group of really great airplanes, which automatically turned into cross section of airplane types.
Then we narrowed things down even more by asking if there was a top dog among them. Usually, surprisingly, there was. That one made the list.
We think you’ll agree with at least two-thirds of our picks.
After our Top 10 Planes Of All Time, we present 25 others that a lot of you will argue belong on the main list. In many cases, you’d have a strong argument. Enjoy!
11. Antonov AN-225 Mriya
Big is good—that is, when it does something useful, as in carrying lots of passengers (see Boeing 747), bombs (not listed, but Boeing B-52) or a prodigious load. When it comes to that last one, the one and only champion of the world is the Antonov An-225 Mriya (Ukrainian for “dream”). By wingspan, tail height and length, it’s the biggest airplane in the world. It is inarguably the biggest load hauler. The humongous Antonov holds the record for the biggest load carried, 545,000 pounds, and its listed payload is nearly twice that of the Boeing 747-800 and nearly four times that of the Airbus A380. How many copies of the cargo plane are there? Just one. Built in 1988 to carry the Russian Buran space shuttle, it has since flown as a commercial cargo carrier, its dual claims to fame being the ability to carry very heavy and very large loads while having sufficient space to carry larger loads than other plane in the world. The An-225 is powered by six turbofans outputting more than 50,000 pounds of thrust apiece. They clearly get the job done.
Margin of error: 30%. Contenders: 747 Dreamlifter; Airbus Beluga. Pretenders: Everything else.