It's not often that a plane formerly used in the USSR parks in Broome.
A 195-tonne beast carrying a more than 40-tonne payload and toting a 50m wingspan, the Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 parked alongside Gus Winckel Drive last week was probably used to transport equipment or military personnel to freezing and remote parts of Siberia.
Able to travel 5000km in less than six hours from short and unpaved airstrips in Arctic conditions, the four-engine strategic airlifters also have a military version widely used by the Russian, Ukrainian and Indian air forces.
These days, the plane is used extensively as a commercial freighter for weighty items such as mining equipment.
Broome International Airport manager Nick Belyea said the plane arrived in Broome last week and was awaiting take-off to its next destination as both Karratha and Darwin had been unable to host it for lack of space.
He said it was the biggest aircraft to land in Broome during his tenure and possibly the town’s history.
“We’ve had other freighters in here before – we get Hercules fairly regularly … this is probably in that category,” he said.
“In the nose of the aircraft you can look down as you’re travelling along … the rear of the aircraft opens up under the tail. It’s pretty neat.”