When the Stratolaunch took off from Mojave, California in 2019 it smashed a record that’s remained unbroken for over seven decades. No flying aircraft had surpassed the massive wingspan of Howard Hughes’ H-4 Hercules, also called the “Spruce Goose.” But wingspan is not the only measure of size when considering the world’s largest aircraft – weight, length, and volume are all valid parameters. Taking all of these factors into consideration we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the largest airplanes the world has ever seen.
Empty weight: 226,796 kilograms
Length: 73 meters
Wingspan: 117 meters
First Flight: 2019
The Stratolaunch is an aircraft project founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The aircraft now holds the record for the largest wingspan for an aircraft surpassing the Hughes H-4 Hercules. The unique-looking aircraft is composed of two fuselages joined together and is designed to meet the needs of the nascent private space industry. Its main task will be a flying launch platform to put payloads into orbit.
Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”)
Empty weight: 113,399 kilograms
Length: 66.65 meters
Wingspan: 97.54 meters
First Flight: 1947
The first flight for the “Spruce Goose” last just 26 seconds or around one and a half kilometers, but the short interval was enough to be considered the largest wingspan aircraft that has ever flown. The giant flying boat, made of wood and fitted with eight engines, was designed during World War II in response to the need for long-range heavy transport.
Antonov An-225 Mriya
Empty weight: 285,000 kilograms
Length: 84 meters
Wingspan: 88.4 meters
First Flight: 1988
The six-engine Antonov An-225 is in a category of its own, holding titles for both the heaviest aircraft ever built and the largest wingspan of an aircraft currently in service. Only one An-225 has ever been built. The second was in the construction process when the Soviet Union collapsed. Antonov Airlines makes the “Mriya” available for unique heavy lift jobs all over the world.
Empty weight: 277,000 kilograms
Length: 72.72 meters
Wingspan: 79.75 meters
First Flight: 2005
The double-decker A380 was designed for exponential air traffic growth and as a solution to the increasing congestion of major hub airports. It’s able to carry up to 850 passengers, although most operators have opted for a less dense 450 to 550 passenger layout. The A380 has found success in the Dubai based Emirates, which is the largest operator by far.
Empty weight: 220,128 kilograms
Length: 76.3 meters
Wingspan: 68.4 meters
First Flight: 2010
Since the early days of its first service in 1970 and for the ensuing decades, the Boeing 747 has been the undisputed “Queen of the Skies.” Its unique forward hump has become a recognizable and popular icon. Although it was surpassed by the Airbus A380 in passenger capacity, the latest iteration of the Boeing 747 family, the 747-8, keeps its place in the record books as the longest airliner in the world.
Ready to Take Advantage of the Pilot Shortage?
Thinking about getting a pilot certificate or starting a career in aviation? The demand for pilots is high, and the rewards are big. Book your discovery flight today and find out how CTI can get you started in aviation.