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Massive Antonov 124 lands at Austin Straubel Airport


ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - The world's second largest aircraft made a big impression as it landed at Austin Straubel International Airport Saturday.

The Russian-made Antonov 124 was carrying gigantic cargo headed for Marinette Marine.

Just before noon, the largest aircraft ever to land in Green Bay touched down. Onlookers crowded around fences by Austin Straubel International Airport.

"It's just so cool to see the second largest aircraft in the world in Green Bay,” Nancy Macco, shivering, yet excited, told FOX 11. "It's pretty amazing, I'd love a ride in it, that's for sure!"

The Antonov 124 has a wingspan of 240 feet. It's 226 feet long and weighs nearly 200 tons.

"It's a very unique aircraft. It actually has two internal cranes inside the aircraft,” Alan Timmerman, CEO of Jet Air, told FOX 11.

Jet Air executives said they received a special request for the landing a few weeks ago.

"It's coming from Hahn, Germany. It's unloading cargo going up to Marinette. It's carrying a crew of 23 and 100 thousand pounds of cargo,” said Timmerman.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says this heavy cargo will be part of the USS Milwaukee, a Littoral Combat Ship being built at Marinette Marine.

The company tells FOX 11 these are parts that help with the ship's propulsion.

"We needed a 100 ton crane, they needed three semis to get all that onto a ramp at a TSA airport, and provide security all at the same time, which was an issue,” said Timmerman.

Before it could undergo the four hour unloading process, the Antonov 124's cargo had to be inspected by customs officials. They say it's unusual to see a shipment of this magnitude at this airport.

"Normally cargo in Green Bay comes via rail or ship on the ocean. Whether the cargo could have come in a big ship if the lake was open, that could be. But the cargo is too large to be put on the rail,” said Chad Shulfer.

After the parts are unloaded, the Antonov 124 will spend the night on the runway. Its crew will stay in a nearby hotel.

Sunday morning, it'll take off: Refueled with 45 thousand gallons of jet fuel.That's a cost of roughly $143,000.

"It's probably the biggest fuel order in the history of Green Bay,” said Timmerman.