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I wear a lot of hats, here at dKos and in the world.  Jack of all trades and master of none, you know the deal.  Anyway, yesterday, as I was wearing my musician hat and leaving a gig, I saw an airplane perhaps 2 miles distant coming into land at the Columbia, SC airport.  It was clearly a jumbo- rare here- and not in the paint scheme of UPS, which is the only airline that flies such things.  I saw it from a distance, but it seemed that the fuselage and tail configuration (overhead wing but tailwings at the base of wing, wide body) meant it was either a C-130 Hercules of the US Military or the russian Antonov AN-124- the soviet equivalent of the C-5 galaxy and not a common sight around here.  So I, being a nerd and having some spare time, drove to the airport to look- and lo, it was the An-124, with a big ol' Russian flag on the tail.  I know planespotting is not an uncommon hobby, so I was just wondering if anybody around here knew why this plane could be where it was.  My guess is it was flying some liberals to Eastern Europe to be tortured, but I'm open to other suggestions :)

Originally posted to tubalefty on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 04:44 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Weird, maybe picking up some BMW's (none)
    for Russian big whigs?  Strange.  Don't know why it would land in SC of all places.
  •  the AN-124 (none)
    is often used to fly big oil drilling equipment, pieces of power plants, etc.  But this thing did not appear to have any heavy-lifting or transport gear near it, just a crown-vic looking sedan, hence my theory about the liberal torture :)

    "The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath."- Shakespeare, "Merchant of Venice"

    by tubalefty on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 04:55:53 AM PST

  •  Registration No? Photo? (none)
    If you can provide a digital photo and registration number, the plane can be searched in plane-spotter databases.  I'm not a plane-spotter, but I've met some here who were very helpful when I posted some of the early diaries on CIA rendition flights last year.

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing - after they have exhausted all other possibilities." Winston Churchill

    by LondonYank on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 04:58:29 AM PST

  •  One possibility (none)
    What sort of livery was it sporting?  If it was a non-military color scheme, it could have been there for a number of heavy-lift cargo applications.  For example, it is, I think, the aircraft used to transport the GE90 turbofan engines used in the Boeing 777 airliner.
  •  i just like planes (none)
    Not really a planespotter, but I love airports and watching planes.  Several years ago I lived a few miles from LAX and always went grocery shopping at a store with a view of the north runways (the Ralphs on Sepulveda) just so I could watch planes land as I walked in and out of the store.
  •  Columbia's Sister City? (none)
    You don't suppose it has anything to do with Chelyabinsk, Russia being Columbia's sister city?
  •  They are often leased to the private sector (none)
    EG A friend of mine hires a couple for transporting the stage sets for bands such as The Stones between venues. On the news this morning a UK retail clothing chain has hired a fleet of these (and the 6 engined even bigger AN-224s) to fly in clothes from Asia in time for Christmas after their UK warehouse burnt down.
  •  Prehaps BMWs? (none)
    The Antonov AN-124 was probably being used to transport equipment of some type. An aircraft used for any kind of nefarious purpose would almost certainly be nondescript, perhaps with the only identification being the tail number. The Antonov AN-124 is anything but nondescript.

    Here is a little bit on the aircraft.

    The present administration is rolling back the Great Society, the New Deal, the Enlightenment, and the Renaissance.

    by JohnInWestland on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 05:58:47 AM PST

  •  There is a british out fit... (none)
    that leases them out along with their russian crews for oversize loads.  That size of aircraft you could get all the liberals in SC on it!  I don't believe there is anything sinister here.

    Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne

    by scurrvydog on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 05:59:34 AM PST

  •  Charter cargo, probably (none)
    If you need to air-freight something too heavy to fit in a C130, the big Russian cargo jets are a relatively inexpensive way of doing so.


  •  Pictures (none)
    Pictures of the plane can be found here. I believe the two biggest owners of the Antonovs are Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Polet Cargo Airlines.

    The moral values crowd is a bunch of lazy people who deep down in their hearts want the government to do their job as parents.

    by phinky on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 06:12:57 AM PST

  •  asdf (none)
    If you had the registration number, that might help ID the plane and what it was doing at CAE.  Also, at which facility (fixed-base operator) did it park?


    1. If the registration starts with "N," it's a U.S. registered aircraft.  However, the FAA currently shows no AN-124s on the U.S. registry.

    2. If the registration starts with "RA," it's registered in the Russian federation.


    "Someday this war's gonna end..." -- Robert Duvall as Lt. Col. Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now."

    by DCrefugee on Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 06:15:59 AM PST

  •  heavy cargo airplane (none)
    It's not unusual to see the An-124 freighter flying in the USA and they are used for heavy lifting. These are typically oversized freight charters. Two liveries you are likely to see are Polet Cargo Airlines and Volga-Dnepr Cargo Airlines. Sometimes you may see them in the colors of the Antonov Design Bureau, the Russian manufacturer of the aircraft, which leases the An-124 to some western freight operators.

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