I sure hope this is a preview of the upcoming St. Louis summer. Upper 80s, cumulus, windy, but sunny. After a dull Monday, which was back at school, I decided to head out to Lambert. I parked at the restaurant, and then went out on the patio. The runways in use today were 12R and 12L. Some of the cargo aircraft that were at the UPS and Fed Ex facilities were N813UP, N748UP, N364FE, and N141FL. N141FL is a Contract Air Cargo CV-580 that I had seen on approach will driving to STL. Meanwhile, I spotted a rare visitor, but a very welcome one. Antonov Design Bureau AN-124. It was parked just off to the south of the Saberliner facilities. While focusing in with my bincoluars, I found picked the reg off of this Ukrainian bad boy; UR-82009. It had a couple of airport trucks surrounding it- and its stairs were swung down. Crew were climbing up. The traffic was very busy. Sometime at about 5:30, the giant lumbered slowly away from it's place. This thing made a 1/4 mile journey down 13/31. Then stopped and made a left across 12L and 12R. One pretty cool thing was that whenever the engines were advanced only a little, dust was blown up everywhere! After making it across the two parallel runways, it taxied all the way down to the end of 12R, but waited there for 35 minutes, letting all of the commercial traffic depart before its turn. Then UR-82009 alligned on 12R, and had the throttles about 1/2 power but with the brakes on. Even from 1 1/2 miles away, I could see 80ft high plumes of dust spewing from the rear. For about 4 minutes, it sat like this. Crawling along for the first 500ft, this plane was picking up speed at the pace of a Dodge Caravan. A huge roar from the four engines was filling my ear drums. At about 2/3 down 12R, the Antonov had a high nose up attitude, and was off the ground. The roar was something I had never heard before, but I want to hear it as much as that V8 on my school bus post! Some brown smoke was streaming out of all four engines- an indication that full power was probably used. I also think it was hauling something, because the climb rate was at a 20 degree angle for about 3 miles! Watching the gears go up brought a smirk to my face. Each landing gear looked to have its own housing, or maybe two to a door. Do they fold in at a 90 degree angle after gear up? In addition to me, about 20 Boeing employees were eating dinner and drinking beer on the patio, and when the Antonov was alligned, they all stood up- with beer in hand! Then to my suprise, the CV-580 of Contract taxied down 13/31 and took off with brown smoke, too. Pretty nice prop note. To end the day, the only AA a/c painted in red and white TWA colors, N691LF, departed off 12L in front of me, with plenty roar. The An-124 takeoff is sealed away- won't forget that anytime soon.
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