Are you ready? It’s extreme aviation trivia time. We’ve shared the list of the smallest aircraft in the world, and now it’s time to tackle the biggest. Get ready to pit your aircraft knowledge against that of your fellow pilots as you discover how much you each know about the largest aircraft in the world.
Want to skip ahead to your favorite category and check just how prepared you are? We will be sharing the record holders for the:
- World’s Largest Cargo Plane
- World’s Largest Passenger Plane
- World’s Largest RC Plane
- World’s Largest Military Aircraft
- World’s Largest Seaplane
- World’s Largest Mothership Launchpad
- World’s Largest Helicopter
- World’s Largest Airship
- World’s Largest Drone
World’s Largest Cargo Plane
Until February 2022, the Soviet-era Antonov An-225 Mriya held the titles of both the world’s largest operational cargo plane and the world’s largest plane overall. Unfortunately, the Mriya, whose name means “dream,” was almost completely destroyed by a Russian air attack while undergoing maintenance in a hangar at Hostomel Airport in Ukraine. Although the Antonov team initially hoped to salvage the plane, surveys showed that the wreckage of the An-225 was beyond repair.
The An-225 was a one-of-a-kind cargo aircraft originally built to transport the Buran spaceplane and Energia rocket boosters. (Get your own mini replica of the Mriya complete with a space shuttle perched atop.)
This massive plane was the heaviest ever built, with an empty weight of 314 tons, max takeoff weight of 710 tons and the ability to airlift a record-setting payload of nearly 280 tons. The Myria measured 275 feet long, 59 feet high, had a 290-foot wingspan, and was powered by six large Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofan engines.
The headline “world’s largest plane destroyed” may not be the end of the Mriya’s legacy, however, as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is already seeking funds to build another Mriya.
Until the Mriya-2 is built, the title of largest cargo plane in the world can arguably go to the Airbus BelugaXL. The BelugaXL has the largest cargo hold volume in the world at an impressive 78,000 cubic feet. It has a wingspan of 197 feet 10 inches and is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofan engines for a range of 2,600 miles at max payload.
World’s Largest Passenger Plane
The Airbus A380-800 is the world’s largest passenger airliner, and although production ended in mid-2021, the 251 aircraft produced over the last two decades are expected to remain in service for years to come.
The A380 measures 238.5 feet long and 79 feet tall. Its two full-length decks and widebody configuration provide plenty of space for up to 853 passengers. Even at full capacity, the A380 has an impressive max range of 8,000 nautical miles.
World’s Largest RC Plane
Surprisingly, there is no official Guinness World Record category for the largest RC plane, but based on length, the current consensus is that Steven and Matthew Bishop hold the unofficial record for their 1:6 replica Concorde Air France jet. The flyable model is 33 feet long and 6.1 feet tall with a wingspan of 13 feet. It uses four JetCat P300 Pro engines to lift its 328 pounds into the air.
Have your own fun with the Concorde when you help your kids build a Cobi blocks version of the Concorde G-BBDG.
Honorable mention: Although it may not be the largest RC plane, the memory of the recently destroyed Antonov AN-225 Myria lives on in a 1:16 scale RC model that still takes to the skies. The mini-Myria is still generously sized for an RC plane with a wingspan of 19 feet, length of 17 feet, and weight of 206 pounds. It needs a combined 104 pounds of thrust from its two engines to take to the skies.
World’s Largest Military Aircraft
The US Air Force’s C-5 McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender is the world’s largest fuel capacity tanker, with a payload of 52,250 gallons of fuel weighing 178 tons. At full cargo capacity, the KC-10s range is 3,800 nautical miles. When not fully loaded with fuel, the KC-10 can also be used to transport cargo and troops. The KC-10 is 181 feet long, 58 feet tall, and has a wingspan of 165 feet 4 inches.
As large and capable as the KC-10 Extender is, the Russian Air Force’s Antonov An-124 Ruslan is technically the largest military aircraft in the world. This smaller version of the one-off Myria cargo plane is 226 feet long, 68 feet tall, has a wingspan of 240 feet, and can transport a payload of up to 165 tons.
World’s Largest Seaplane
For many decades, the largest flying boat ever made was the infamous Hughes H-4 Hercules, more commonly known as the “Spruce Goose” even though the plane was actually made of birch. The Spruce Goose only made a single one-mile flight in the fall of 1947, but that flight secured its place in the annals of aviation history.
In 2020, however, China’s AG600 Kunlong made its first successful water takeoff and claimed the title of world’s largest seaplane (although the Goose is still the largest wooden plane ever built).
The Kunlong is 121 feet long and 39 feet tall with a wingspan of 128 feet. It has a max range of 2,700 miles and can carry up to 50 passengers or be used to collect and dump water on forest fires. In addition to aerial firefighting, China says the new seaplane will be useful for “marine rescue and other critical emergency rescue missions,” though based on its design, it can also have military applications.
World’s Largest Mothership Launchpad
If you base the determination solely on wingspan, the Stratolaunch “ROC” is the world’s largest airplane of any kind with a wingspan of 384 feet. The ROC’s unique design features two fuselages connected by a reinforced center wing. The massive plane can carry payloads of up to 500,000 pounds (250 tons) and is powered by six Boeing 747 engines.
The ROC was originally built to carry air-launch-to-orbit rockets, but after a company ownership change, the ROC is now being retooled to provide high-speed hypersonic flight test services.
World’s Largest Helicopter
The biggest helicopter in the world in terms of weight is the Mil Mi-26 Halo. The Halo debuted in 1981 and is still in use for both military and civilian applications around the world. This massive helicopter is over 131 feet long and has an empty weight of 62,170 pounds. Its cargo area measures approximately 39 feet x 10 feet and can accommodate several vehicles while the cabin can seat up to 80 military troop members with their gear or hold as many as 60 stretchers. The Halo is even strong enough to lift other aircraft and military vehicles.
World’s Largest Airship
The longest airship ever built was the ill-fated LZ-129 Hindenburg which measured more than 803 feet long and 135 feet wide with a weight of 484,000 pounds (242 tons).
Large airships are making a comeback, and the largest airship in the world today is the Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander 10. This new airship is 302 feet long, 143 feet wide, and 85 feet tall with a weight of 44,100 pounds. Unlike the Hindenburg, the Airlander 10 gets its buoyancy from both a helium-containing envelope and the aerodynamic lifting body design.
World’s Largest Drone
The current record holder for world’s largest unmanned aircraft, or UAS, is Aevum’s Ravn X. The massive fighter-jet looking aircraft weighs in at a hefty 25.4 tons with a 59.7-foot wingspan and 17.7-foot height. The Ravn X was built to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit with no crew involvement. The autonomous aircraft takes off, flies, lands, and even parks itself once the mission is completed.
The Ravn X debuted in 2020 and Aevum has already landed a contract for the high-tech drone to carry out small satellite launch missions for the US Space Force.