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Massive airplane was here to pick up helicopters for firefighting in Europe

When I stepped out of my home around 4 p.m. May 12, I observed a very low, jumbo-size aircraft on a landing approach from the south heading over the Donahue-Frohnmayer Park area. From a distance it appeared to have a Russian flag painted on its tail, and our mail carrier, who was nearby, indicated that it was an Antonov. I've heard no local news coverage of this Russian aircraft arrival. Any information on this unusual aircraft?

Jaak, Medford

Good airplane eyes, Jaak. Not just being able to spot the plane, of course. How could you miss it, right? The fact that you were able to nail down the specific aircraft is impressive. It was, indeed an Antonov.

The massive cargo aircraft was here to pick up two helicopters — Erickson S-64 Air Cranes, according to Christina Kalman, Erickson’s senior manager for digital marketing campaigns. They will be used for firefighting efforts in Europe, Kalman said.

Obviously, helicopters like these require a sizable transport. The model that landed at the airport can carry a maximum load of 120 tons, according to an Erickson Facebook post and confirmed on Aircraft Wiki.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com.