Antonov An-225 Mriya: Attention Perth it’s ‘just a plane’

11-07-2018 by admin

The Antonov An-225 Mriya tipping its nose. Photo: Brendan Foster The Antonov An-225 Mriya landing In Perth on Sunday. Photo: Brendan Foster

I don’t get it. It’s just a plane. Granted, the Antonov An-225 Mriya is a massive beast of an aircraft, but it’s still just a god damn plane.

The stats surrounding it are mildly interesting: If the craft was dropped into Domain Stadium (preferably when the Dockers are playing) the length of the plane would measure from the goals to the middle of the ground and the wingspan is the width of 700 outstretched eagles. The last part I made up, but you get my drift.

I don’t want to be one of those people that mock Perth’s lack of culture with a condescending sneer, but was all this overblown hysteria about a plane warranted?

More than 20,000 aviation geeks, walked, ran and clambered over themselves to find the best vantage point to see the world’s biggest plane land at Perth Airport on Sunday.

Thousands of people peered through barbed wire fences as if waiting for the second coming or some galactic prophet to pass on his or her infinite wisdom.

Motorists literally abandoned their cars on the side of Tonkin and Great Eastern highways leading into the airport.

I described it on Sunday like scenes in a B-grade, Hollywood post-apocalyptic movie, where thousands of people just leave their cars on the side of the road and gaze skywards waiting for the meteor to hit.

After two hours sitting in traffic, I embraced the thought of a rock the size of Perth slamming into my car.

If existential writer John Paul Satre was around today, he would tweak his most famous line, “hell is other people,” to “hell is waiting in traffic surrounded by plane spotters”. It was pure torture.

While I was taking a violent disliking to the traffic jam that stretched all the way back to home in Fremantle, I was desperately trying to recall when this many Perthites turned out to an event.

I recall as a skinny, pimply teenager waiting for Pope John Paul to swing past in his Pope mobile at Belmont Park in the mid-1980s with a few thousand phlegmatic Catholics.

Even then I felt like a hapless alien, because the only reason I went was because I had a crush on a girl from the local Catholic school that I had been stalking on the bus.

Just prior to the Pope’s Perth sojourn, I was dragged out of bed to watch the Concord wiz into Perth along the Swan River with a few thousand bleary-eyed believers.

All the way home in the car, I criticised the imbecility of those who gave up sleep to encounter a spot in the sky.

When the Antonov finally came into view just before midday, I expected some revelatory moment to render me catatonic and I would collapse to my knees and instantly become converted to the church of plane spotters.

Instead the plane looked like an obese angel, drunkenly wobbling its way to a kebab shop.

When the “giant of the skies” taxied around the runway towards us, I couldn’t work out if the pilot was waving a Ukrainian flag after the country won Eurovision the night before or he was pleading for political asylum after been stuck in the air for 25 years.

While everyone was looking on with bewilderment and joy, I decided to sneak off to urinate behind the media bus, when I was grabbed by a Perth Airport PR gal and told I had to wait for the plane to “tip its nose”.

Thinking the moment couldn’t possible get any shittier; I thought there could be something charming about a plane flipping its nose.

About five minutes later, it was like being forced to watch an aging pornstar willing on his tool of trade.

I never understood plane spotting as much as I could comprehend train spotting or any bloody spotting for that matter.

You see a plane, you board a plane. That has always been my simple philosophy.

Nonetheless, I was looking forward to entertaining encounters with plane spotters who would produce insight, wisdom and startling nuggets of information about the joys of ogling aircrafts.

But by the time I got back from my prime spot on the runway they were all gone.

And how would I spot one? Would they be wearing t-shirts with “I love planes” or one of those helicopter hats?

I did spy one man in his 60s (who looked like he was still dressed by his mother) with all the features of an aviation nerd and I wanted to grab him by his starched collar and plead with him to explain to me why the enrapture for a plane?

I couldn’t help picturing him earlier squinting through a pair of binoculars proudly declaring “yep, it’s big. “Shall we head home now Neville?”

My scornful dismissal of the Antonov will undoubtedly infuriate hard-core plane spotters.

But then again, I just don’t get it. It’s just a plane to me. Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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