Maybe “new” isn’t quite the right word given that this aircraft type was designed in 1947 and this particular aircraft is 35 years old.
I’ll bet you haven’t seen these in your neighborhood recently! Trust me, you would notice, it’s a big aircraft!
The AN-2 is still in service all over the world as a passenger and cargo plane, primarily in remote and undeveloped areas. It’s able to land and take off from undeveloped surfaces such as grass trips, open fields, sand bars, deserts, and so on.
The most amazing thing that I’ve seen is that it doesn’t have a stall speed. If the engine fails you need to keep it under control, but as you slow it will simply descend to the ground at about the same speed you would land under a parachute.
It’s big, lumbering, and slow, with at top speed of 160 mph and a cruise speed of 120 mph. (A Cessna 172 is faster.) But it will fly perfectly well down to about 30 mph and in fact can be flown backwards over the ground if it’s flown into a headwind faster than that.
As a passenger aircraft it typically carries 12 passengers. (AK-47’s are optional.) We won’t be taking passengers – as a foreign-manufactured aircraft the Big Panda II isn’t eligible for the CAF’s ride program.
The cockpit is a thing to behold. The GPS unit on top of the dashboard might not be 1947 original equipment for this type.
Designed in Russia, many of the instruments still have their Russian markings, and most are in metric units.
And the markings and specifications on the four big blades are in Russian. My Russian is just a bit rusty (i.e. I know about five words that I learned from James Bond movies and Tom Clancy books) so I can’t tell you what it says, but it’s an attention getter.