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Mriya and Other IAH Exotic Freighters

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

At the time of the publication of this article the only operational Antonov An-225 Mriya, UR-82060, had been destroyed two months and two days prior. The An-225 was a unique airplane in many aspects, and one of the largest transport aircraft in history to enter commercial service.

The An-225 frequented the airport of the city I live in, Houston Intercontinental (IAH), but I never got to see it. I remember occasionally checking its schedule to see if I could catch it on its next visit, but it never coincided with my days off.

Then, suddenly it got destroyed in a military conflict.

I had been considering purchasing a 1:400 model of Mriya for a while, but there were many models with higher priority in my wanted-list. So, when Mriya got destroyed, I thought I had also missed the chance to get a model of it, since I expected the demand for them to soar. And it did seem to do so, but luckily several manufacturers capitalized on the opportunity and there was no shortage of re-releases, as well as new releases of Mriya in the aftermath of its demise. I went ahead and purchased a re-release of a version wearing the last livery by good old Herpa. The size of it allows for a unique level of detail appreciation for a 1:400 die-cast model.

I used to think of Mriya as one of the soviet regulars of IAH and I thought it would be a matter of time before we crossed paths. But while I never got to see Mriya in person, I do get to see its little brother, the An-124, in the colors of different operators at IAH frequently.

Below left to right:

  • Antonov Design Bureau An-124 (UR-82072) taking off from runway 26L at IAH. April 4, 2014.

  • KLM 747-400 PH-BFV with an Antonov Airlines An-124 being loaded in the background at IAH on March 23, 2018 (last day of KLM 747 operations at IAH)

Mriya does fit nicely in a niche of my collection. While I do not focus on models of current subjects, many of the few I have in that category are freighters. In the monotonous era of airline consolidation and twin-engine jetliners, I see freighters as a source of exotism and variety. Mriya will join a couple of other freighters I have in 1:400 that also used to be regulars at IAH.

1/400: Herpa Antonov An-225, Aero Le Plane Panalpina 747-8F, JC Wings British Airways World Cargo 747-8F

The first one is Panalpina’s 747-8F N850GT (Operated by Atlas Air). This is a corporate model that my dad managed to obtain as a gift from Panalpina personnel in Houston as well as a beautiful 1:200 example of sistership N851GT. Both models are made by Aero Le Plane. These were the only two aircraft to ever wear the Panalpina's livery.

The 1:200 one is a plastic snap-fit model, but very well made. It includes a landing gear set also.

I cherish both of these Panalpina jumbos, not only because they are a precious gift, but also because I have fond memories of them at IAH.

One particular experience I remember involving a Panalpina jumbo at IAH, was on June 21, 2013. I had gone to IAH to do some spotting and ran into Udo Schaefer from Just Planes, who was filming their Houston IAH 2013 video. N851GT was one of the highlights of the day with a majestic takeoff out of runway 15L. I remember Mr. Schaefer being particularly excited with the catch of the rather elusive aircraft.

Panalpina (Atlas Air) N851GT IAH June 21, 2013 by Jorge A. Zajia

The second member of my IAH freighter collection is another 747-8F: British Airways World Cargo (Operated by Global Supply Systems) G-GSSE by JC-Wings. This is my first and only interactive model.

I remember seeing the Global Supply Systems 747-400Fs in their own livery, as well as the -8s in the British Airways World Cargo colors at IAH. They always stood out in a good way among the usual sea of Continental/United aircraft.

British Airways World Cargo (Global Supply Systems) G-SSF IAH October 14, 2012

While I do not currently have an An-124 in 1:400 scale, I do have a 1:250 Volga-Dnepr example by Lupa. Out of the models I have currently displayed in all scales, This is the one that I have owned the longest. It was also given to me by my dad, but the origin is a mystery as he doesn’t remember where he got it from. The model has not aged well.

Lupa 1:250 Volga-Dnepr An-124

With the arrival of Mriya, now I have a small but balanced representation of medium size and 1:400 scale models of the big Antonovs and 747s that have kept the skies around IAH diverse an interesting.

All the pictures included in this article were taken by the author.

Jorge A. Zajia


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