Like Martin Luther King, brilliant aircraft designer Oleg Antonov could have said: “I have a dream.” Among Antonov’s airplanes there really is Mriya (which means “dream” in Ukrainian) – a unique ultra-high-capacity model. However, Antonov had a real dream – he was dreaming about airplanes from an early age. In 1948, he produced AN-2 – “aircraft of the century.” Antonov designed his first machine as biplane. It seems that this design should have lost its relevance, yet no one could design such a universal, reliable and cheap aircraft for 40 years that the model was being produced. AN-2 had nickname Cropduster, as this machine was successfully used in agriculture. “AN-2 is a unique airplane – it can land on a shed roof and take off even from a bell tower,” Canadian pilot Eric Brown said commenting on Antonov’s machine. Passenger airplane AN-10, multipurpose short takeoff and landing aircraft AN-14, world’s first wide-body airliner AN-22 Antei, and the largest for its time transport aircraft Ruslan – all these models were designed by Oleg Antonov. As far as Antei is concerned, the designer’s colleagues would often joke that the aircraft’s name (it is named after Antheus – a character of Greek mythology) is the evidence of Antonov’s poor education, as Antheus would draw his strength from the ground and lose it while being pulled away from the surface. In his memoirs, the designer challenged this criticism. Naturally, he knew the myth about Antheus. As for the name for his aircraft, Antonov chose the said one, as the model could takeoff from soft-surface runaways, i.e., draw strength from the ground. “To me, the airplane is not only the result of technical thinking, but a work of art as well. The aircraft’s forms should be balanced and refined,” Oleg Antonov would say. He designed his machines in accordance with the standards of beauty, so the contemporaries called his models “elegant and thoroughbred.”
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Information provided by the Scientific Russia News Agency. Media outlet’s registration certificate: IA No. FS77-62580 issued by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media on July 31, 2015.
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