At about 10:20 am today, 06/08/02, I was sitting at home, with the door to the balcony and the windows open, and I heard a VERY different engine sound. I live a short distance away from Milwaukee General Mitchell Airport, so I can hear the planes taxying and taking off when I have my apartment windows open. I strongly suspected that what I heard was the Antonov AN-124 which landed at MKE Thursday evening. Well, I DASHED out of my apartment, got in my car and went TEARING down the road towards the spotting area. Cars were pulled over all along Layton Avenue, and more cars were turning into the spotting area. From the top of the hill near the airport, I could see the giant "Ruslan" sitting at the end of the runway, tail beacon flashing, positioned for take-off. I wish I could have gotten there earlier to watch it taxy! And of course, in my hurry, I didn't grab my camera.
As I pulled onto Layton Avenue, I drove through the jetwash from the plane's huge D-18T turbofan engines - QUITE a strong blast, blowing dust and bits of grass across the road! I turned into the spotting area, parked, jumped out of my car and ran to the fence. People were lined up all along it, staring at the plane, making comments about how huge it was. As I stood there, the AN-124 revved up its engines. Surprisingly, the four turbofans did not make much noise at all, considering their size and what they power. The AN-124 slowly began to roll down the runway, gathering speed. As I watched, it grew smaller, hurtling its mass down the runway, then slowly lifting its nose and lumbering into the air. As it became airborne, the giant climbed very slowly, the four streams of sooty exhaust from its engines trailing behind it. The "Ruslan" began to bank gradually as it gained altitude. I watched until I could barely see it.