Spirit of the Horse Dragon
27 / 02 / 2015
Charter broker Air Partner has teamed up with the Ruslan International joint venture of Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr Airlines to fly a gigantic mechanical dragon-horse from Nantes to Beijing, using one of the operator’s 17 Antonov 124 heavy lift aircraft. (video below)
Known as Long Ma Jing Shen or ‘The Spirit of the Horse Dragon’, the 12 m high 46-tonne mechanical model is destined to take part in a parade through the Chinese capital this month to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China.
Manufactured in France by La Machine, the model comprises a wooden chassis over a steel body. The dragon-horse has articulations that enable intricate movements including the ability to rear its hind legs, spew fire, snort jets of smoke and uncoil its tongue. The model is carried on a support vehicle enabling it to move at speed, and is operated by a crew of eight people riding inside the machine.
Ruslan International’s Acting Vice-President Andriy Blagovisniy said ‘the history of the AN-124 is one of carrying exceptional loads; but this ranks among the most unusual and fascinating assignments’.
Thierry Zemouli, from Air Partner’s French office, said the AN-124 was ‘an ideal aircraft’ for the unusual consignment, as its doors open to 6·4m x 4·4m. Ruslan’s Load Planning Department spent three months preparing for the flight, developing a custom solution for loading and securing the machine, and the actual loading process took around 6 h.