Superman once said that statistically speaking, flying is still the safest way to travel. But you can't help but marvel at how these bold innovations that have enabled us to move freely from one city, one country and even one continent to another can actually take off.
Da Vinci may have conceived the idea of an airplane centuries before it was built, but it was the Wright Brothers who put their necks on the line to launch the first successful flight in 1903. Since then, there have been a lot of changes in the industry. However, it wasn't until the cold war era that the most massive planes ever were made. Given the sizes of these things, it's hard to believe that they even got off the ground let alone transported anyone safely.
Hughes Aircraft Company designed the massive airlift flying boat to transport war materials to personnel in Britain. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall. Although it couldn’t be put to the use it was originally designed for, it did fly and hence, holds the record for having the largest wingspan.
The strategic bomber, used by the United States Air Force, was in service from 1949 to 1959. It is the largest mass produced piston engine aircraft ever built, with the wingspan as long as 230 feet. It could fly intercontinentally without refueling. B-36 was the primary nuclear weapon delivery vehicle until the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress replaced it.
The Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Union designed this heavy military transport aircraft. Sixty-eight of the world’s largest turboprop engine have been built and are being used in Russia and the Ukraine. The edges of these aircrafts have dual contra-rotating propellers deemed necessary for lifting extreme amounts of weight.
The long-range, subsonic, jet- powered strategic bomber was designed and built by Boeing. The United States Air Force has been making use of the aircraft since the 1950s. It is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds worth of payload. Presently, B-52S costs $70,000 per flight operating hour.
The giant military transport aircraft was originally designed and built by Lockheed, and is now maintained by Lockheed Martin. The interior and exterior paint on the aircraft weighs about 2600 pounds, and the carbon compartment of the engine is large enough to hold an eight-lane bowling alley.
Powered by six turbofan engines, it is the biggest commercially used freighter in the world. With the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service today, it has a maximum takeoff capacity of 710 tons. There is the only one operational AN-255 in the world which has set over 200 world records.
The Tupolev Design Bureau in the former Soviet Union designed this supersonic strategic bomber. It is the largest and heaviest Mach 2+ supersonic aircraft ever built. Due to its maneuverability and anti-white flash, it was designated as the White Swan. The main purpose of this aircraft was to deliver nuclear and conventional weapons in the deep continental theaters of operation. It has all weather operational capabilities you'd need to withstand just about anything Mother Nature throws at it.