Creative Images - Stock Photo Library / Antonov AN2-009

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Antonov AN2-009

Antonov AN2-009.jpg

The Soviet Antonov An-2, can perform a feat that seems impossible. It first flew in 1947, as the Soviet Union was rebuilding after the turmoil of World War II. Even on its maiden flight, it looked archaic; aviation technology had already joined the jet age. However, the An-2 was an incredible sound design built in the thousands, exported all across the globe, and still serving nearly 70 years after decades of production. And the plane has one very special attribute aside from its remarkably short take-off and landing that should be physically impossible. It can, essentially, fly backwards.

To do so, the pilot flies into a headwind, and if the wind is strong enough, (15 to 20 knots), you can "hover" the airplane. “You put all of the flaps down and leading edge slats on the front of the wing, you turn the aircraft 40 degrees into the wind and give the engine an awful lot of power and you can hold it there”. This manoeuvre can make the plane move backwards very slowly while still under full control. On an Antonov An-2, the flaps run the entire length of the back of the lower wings, and more on the top wings, which equals lots of lift, and a ridiculously slow minimum speed. Antonov An2 history and specifications.

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