One can imagine Orville or Wilbur Wright getting a glimpse at some of the world’s massive aircraft. These behemoths are unnaturally large. Technically, not all of the flying machines listed are considered airplanes. However, all flying machines are considered aircraft. Here are a few examples of huge aircraft and why they have their unique designs.
The Spruce Goose
For 70 years the Hughes H-4 Hercules, also known as the Spruce Goose, continues to hold the world’s record as the aircraft with the longest wingspan, 97.54 meters, that ever took flight. Wingspan is measured from the tip of one wing to the tip of the opposite wing. It’s one flight took place on November 2, 1947.
Hughes Aircraft manufactured the world’s largest flying boat during World War II in response to war efforts mounted to find an aircraft that could safely transport supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. Because materials were limited during the war, the aircraft was made using wood as its main material, hence the nickname of the Spruce Goose even though it was made using birch wood, not spruce trees.
The Boeing 747-8
This passenger airplane is the longest aircraft in operation. The distinctive dome or bubble shape toward the front of the fuselage, (body), makes it one of the most recognized and beloved aircraft in the world. It’s length of 250 feet and two inches, or 76.3 meters, is remarkable. In comparison, an NBA basketball court is 94 feet long, making the 747 two and a half times that length.
The Mil Mi-26
Fixed-wing airplanes are not the only giants in the sky. Russia’s Mil Mi-26 Helicopter, which uses rotor speed to propel it off the ground instead of lift used by fixed-wing airplanes, it is a remarkably large machine. It can carry 20 tons of cargo or 90 troops. It is the largest helicopter to go into serial production and is still in use, retrieving wooly mammoths or damaged aircraft as needed.
The HAV Airlander 10
The world’s largest flying machine, this lighter-than-air hybrid of two blimps and an airplane can stay aloft for five days at a time. It is still in production in Great Britain despite the U.S. Military canceling its contract. Planned uses include a communications station, military or commercial surveys and a mammoth cargo-carrying machine.