for many folks who appreciate the world’s biggest airplanes — that statement is true both figuratively and literally.
For 23 years at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, aircraft mechanic John Taylor left his sweat and elbow grease on dozens of C-5 Galaxies — one of the largest military aircraft on Earth.
“Even though I was on the aircraft every night, I just marveled at how the thing got off the ground,” Taylor said. His wife didn’t quite get it. She would ask him why he worked on C-5s all week, and then chose to spend precious weekends taking pictures of the huge planes.
“It’s kind of in your blood,” he explained.
The gigantic C-5s make Dover an awe-inspiring destination for aviation enthusiasts — for sure — but even among non-enthusiasts, big planes turn heads. The Galaxy and its successor, the Super Galaxy, are among dozens of giant aircraft models that may soar high and loud above your hometown — prompting comments like, “What is THAT?” or “That’s what I call a big plane.”
They have names like the Jumbo Jet, the Mriya, the Dreamlifter and the Super Guppy.
One of the largest military aircraft
Now retired from the military, Taylor helps run Dover’s Air Mobility Command Museum, where he answers questions about the C-5.
A few interesting tidbits:
It can fly eight school buses from Delaware to Turkey nonstop without refueling.
It’s six stories tall.
Counting wings, it is wider than the White House.
When it’s loaded to maximum weight, it weighs more than two Statues of Liberty.
Get this: On their historic flight, the Wright brothers flew their airplane 120 feet. The cargo hold of the C-5 measures 23 feet longer.
Whenever one of these giant planes sets up for takeoff at the end of a runway, that’s the cue for aviation geeks to park their cars along the fence line and whip out their phones or other camera devices.
“Taking pictures outside Air Force bases can be touchy,” says amateur aviation photographer Paul Carter. But it’s not against the law, he says. “If you can convince the authorities that you know the rules and understand them,” they’ll usually let you take photos.
He says it’s well worth it. “Just watching something as big as a C-5 move so slowly and gracefully as it takes off still thrills me,” says Carter, who’s been photographing airplanes since 1982.