A superb illustration of wake turbulence from the world’s biggest aircraft


We’ve spoken in the past about wake turbulence:  “a disturbance in the atmosphere that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. It includes various components, the most important of which are wingtip vortices and jetwash.”  Some sources refer to it as wake vortex.

The sole example of the world’s biggest operational aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, recently landed at Rzesz√≥w in Poland, making its approach through thick low-level fog.  As it passed over observers waiting for it on the outskirts of the airfield, its enormous size generated enough wake turbulence to completely clear a path through the fog behind it, showing very clearly why it’s dangerous to fly too close behind such super-large aircraft.

Wake vortex separation is a standard applied by air traffic control to regulate how far behind such aircraft others may safely fly.  The bigger the aircraft, the greater the safety distance required.  For example, a small aircraft following something like the An-225 would have to maintain a minimum separation of no less than 8 nautical miles (approximately 9.2 standard miles or 14.73 kilometers) behind it.  Looking at that video, one can understand why!



  1. In 2004 in Iraq, CJTF-7 ran into some for reely-reelz resupply issues… the DotMil got caught with it's pants down, and in Baghdad, we almost ran out of chow… no joke… mad rationing, one hot meal and one MRE a day and told to recyle (use again) the disposable plasticware as there weren't none coming…

    So, at one point the DotMil contracted w/the 'Krainians? or whoever runs those birds to do two airlifts of chow to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport, formerly known as Saddam IAP.)

    Ever seen something THAT F'n big fly?

    Damned thing has it's on airmobile Zip Code I swear…. Made the C-5A I flew in on look like a Piper Cub…

    Js' Sayin'

  2. Solving the wingtip vortice problem is pretty much the holly grail of airplane design. Air naturally wants to move from high pressure to low pressure, and the easiest path is around the end of the wing. Just about everything that been tried makes the problem worse. Professor in college told me about some experiments he was involved in. They had one contraption that basically looked like an umbrella without the fabric on each wing tip. According to the pilot, it felt like he was dragging a parachute. The device initially appeared to work. What it actually did was make the vortex form more than twice as far behind the airplane which is pretty much the exact opposite of the goal.

  3. Yep, wake turbulence IS a major issue for not only spacing, but altitude. You do NOT want to have one of those monsters fly 'over' your airplane in the air, you'll be making some acrobatic 'attempts' to salvage your flight.

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