The Antonov 124 is a reasonably regular visitor to the US when outsized cargo needs to be moved. It is often commented on as being a Russian plane but, while one of the operators is a Russian company and some of the aircraft were assembled in Russia, the design and much of the production is actually Ukrainian. Ilyushin, on the other hand, really is a Russian company. Their IL-76 is also operated for freight services but it doesn’t show up anything like as frequently. Consequently, when a Volga Dnepr example was scheduled in to SeaTac on a Friday afternoon, I was pretty annoyed I would miss it. However, it ended up being seven hours late so arrived well after dark.
Departure the following day was going to be a practical proposition for me (and many others as it happened). The weather was not going to be ideal with low cloud and rain but, when the visitor is a rarity, you don’t get to choose whether to go based on weather. Fortunately, the departure was a lot closer to schedule than the arrival. I drove past the cargo ramp and saw it parked up and all closed up so did wonder whether it would go on time but things were working well and they headed out.
This aircraft was the newer variant with the PS90 engines and takeoff performance was pretty good. I had worried it would be low on the climb out and not in a good position to photograph but it climbed well and was in a good position to get a shot. I had a big grin once it had gone as did the rest of the people waiting for it.