Interesting Facts

Saying Goodbye to the Antonov AN-225

Designed and built in Soviet Ukraine in the 1980s, the Antonov AN-225 was the world’s largest aircraft for more than 30 years. It set records for the heaviest aircraft ever built and the largest wingspan of any aircraft in service. For aviation enthusiasts, it was part innovation, part icon, and part mythical beast. Now, the AN-225 is no more — a piece of aviation history destroyed by Russian invasion forces.

The destruction of the Antonov AN-225 was met with alarm and sadness in the aviation community, which had an enduring devotion to the world’s largest plane. The aircraft, a marvel of aviation engineering, also held a special place in the hearts of the Ukrainian people, serving as a symbol of its technological innovation and national pride.

A devastating loss for the aviation community

The Antonov AN-225 — also called “Mriya,” or “dream” in Ukrainian — was parked at the Hostomel airfield near Kyiv. Grounded on February 24 for maintenance, the plane was still in service when Russian forces captured the airfield and systematically destroyed several structures, including part of the hangar where the AN-225 awaited service.

Satellite images confirmed destruction of the hangar, with NASA data detecting a fire at the site. Shortly thereafter, Ukrainian state department officials confirmed the plane’s destruction.

Why was the Mriya so beloved?

The AN-225 was originally built to transport massive Soviet space shuttles. It first took flight in 1988, but it spent several years in storage following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union before being recommissioned as a cargo plane.

Not only did it hold records in terms of wingspan and weight, but it could also carry the heaviest single-item payload — 418,830 pounds — and the heaviest total payload ever lifted — 559,580 pounds. Its massive size and fabled payload capacity drew large crowds wherever it traveled, especially when it appeared at air shows.

The AN-225 was in service for over 30 years, and it flew in airlift aid operations during crises around the world. Its incredible payload capacity made it essential for important humanitarian missions. It flew operations during the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and transported medical supplies to hard-hit regions during the COVID pandemic.

Saying goodbye to an iconic piece of aviation history

With the destruction of the AN-225, aviation has lost a monument to innovation. While the loss of this technological marvel hit aviation enthusiasts hard, it also struck an emotional chord with the Ukrainian people.

The Ukrainian government has stated its intention to rebuild the Mriya, reflecting its commitment to preserving a strong, free, and democratic Ukraine. The country’s state-run defense corporation, Ukroboronprom, estimates it could cost $3 billion and take five years to restore the AN-225 — and it has vowed the costs will be covered by the Russian government.

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What Jets are Famous CEOs and Celebrities Flying Around in?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson courtesy

Athletes, technology innovators, CEOs, and celebrities all have places to be. Rather than flying commercial and having to worry about everything from adoring fans to flight delays, these moguls take to the skies in their own jets. But what models are they flying around in? Who’s stepping aboard a jet with extravagant customizations, versus flying a stock plane to and from their destinations? We’ve put together a list of some of the most famous names and their jets of choice!

Technology founders who fly in style

Back in 2002, the late Steve Jobs owned a Gulfstream V designed for 15 passengers. Although Jobs was a billionaire in his time, the former Apple CEO didn’t buy the private jet himself. Apple gifted it to him along with 10 million company shares in place of a salary increase. After Jobs passed away, product designer Jony Ive purchased the jet. Ive was the person who helped Jobs design the plane.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, owns a Dassault Falcon 50 EX. He prefers flying in this plane instead of his Falcon 900 EX because it’s more suitable for travelling to Necker Island, his Caribbean resort. However, sometimes he ditches his private jet for a commercial flight. Branson owns Virgin Atlantic and sometimes rides with the airline’s passengers.

A military fighter jet is among some of Larry Ellison’s more eccentric purchases. However, the U.S. government has forbidden Ellison from flying over the country in his beloved Soviet MiG-29. It’s classified as a firearm!

John Travolta courtesy

Celebrities buy luxurious private jets — or not

Bill Gates takes to the sky in a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express that seats up to 19 passengers. He reportedly uses it for business-related trips, and for good reason. When an important business venture is on the line, you must put your time and energy into sealing the deal — not booking commercial flights.

Oprah Winfrey vowed decades ago that she’d one day fly in her own private jet. This decision was spurred on by a rude encounter she had with someone at an airport who claimed to be a fan. That was back in the 90’s. Nowadays, she gets all her traveling done in her jet worth approximately $42 million dollars.

Many celebrities could easily charter a private jet; however, some choose the normalcy of a commercial flight. Priyanka Chopra regularly shares an airplane with the rest of us. Although she doesn’t fly coach, she still experiences the typical delays and annoying passengers associated with commercial flights. The Bollywood star once said she enjoys people watching, which you can’t get at a private terminal.

Floyd Mayweather courtesy

Athletes spending the big bucks on air travel

Michael Jordan’s private jet holds true to his brand. The jet was recently upgraded with a paint job designed to make it look like a flying sneaker. Such a modification makes sense — what else would you do with a billion-dollar net worth?

UFC star Conor McGregor also flies in style with his private jet. This large purchase came on the heels of a 100 million-dollar check from his fight with Floyd Mayweather. From business trips to vacations, McGregor’s private jet appears to be his plane of choice.

Celebrities and billionaires often splurge their net worth on a private jet, sometimes even collecting an entire fleet!

The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet. Need to sell your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact the private aviation professionals online, at, or at +1 (305) 754-3313.

Which 2020 Presidential Hopefuls are Hitting the Campaign Tour in Private Jets?

Chartering the campaign trail isn’t a new concept. According to one charter company, private air travel has been standard for campaigning politicians going all the way back to 2002. It’s a way for politicians to get in front of key audiences faster, on an already expedited timeline. When swing states and key cities are several states apart, flying is often the only option.

As we approach the 2020 election year, flying will be an essential part of the campaign strategy for both sides of the ticket. Both Democrats and Republicans have shown they mean to make an impact this season, and both parties are already very familiar with the benefits of flight chartering.

Looking at past elections

During the 2016 campaign, several top-ticket candidates made cross-country trips in private jets. Among them were Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Scott Walker, and Dr. Ben Carson. As the field narrowed and visits to swing states became routine, finalists Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump all adopted a jet-set lifestyle.

How much flying do top candidates actually do? The Trump campaign reported $2.2 million in air travel expenses while on the campaign trail in 2015. His opponent, Hilary Clinton, billed nearly $1.7 million.

What kind of planes are they flying in?

Most campaign teams are smaller before the primary. This enables many politicians to travel by bus. When the timeline demands chartered flights, smaller jets are often the answer. Popular options include models from Gulfstream and Bombardier ― they’re generally chartered regionally.

After the primary elections narrow the ballot, campaign teams tend to expand drastically. Travel ramps up, as well. This facilitates the need for bigger, more capable jets. Boeing 737 jets are accessible and accommodating and often the first choice for teams on-the-go. Some teams even have a preference for their jet ― President Obama chartered a 757 in 2008; Mitt Romney an MD-83 in 2012.

The 2020 hopefuls are on a whole new level, and current President Donald Trump raised the bar. The President has made the rounds on Air Force One (a modified Boeing 747), however he’s also the owner of a lavish Boeing 757, a Cessna Citation X, and two Sikorsky S-76 helicopters. Democratic hopefuls for the ticket will need to match these logistical capabilities to keep pace on the campaign trail.

Do they really need to fly?

Inevitably during campaign season, someone will bring up the cost of flying as a jab against their opponent. But the fact is, both parties need to fly to be successful in their campaigns.

Take Mitt Romney in 2012, for example. His team traveled more than 170,000 miles in 311 days, using 256 chartered flights. That’s roughly 665 miles covered per flight and 546 miles trekked per day ― a monumental task by plane; an impossible one by bus

More than miles traveled, the abruptness of campaign logistics demands a flexible travel solution. For example, a tragedy happens 1,000 miles away and a candidate needs to be there tomorrow. Or, tack on four more stops to the campaign trail, add 500 more miles of travel each day. The quickness of flight resolves these addendums to the schedule.

Jet charters are as much a part of political campaigns as yard signs and bumper stickers. And it’s looking more likely that they’re just as much of a deciding factor in a candidate’s success.

Contact the experts at L & L International if you need assistance acquiring or selling a private jet. You can reach our sales specialists today at, call us any time at +1 (305) 754-3313, or visit us online.