One of the world's largest aircraft flew out of the Duluth International Airport this week, but public viewing wasn't in the offing.
An Antonov An-124 took off before sunrise Thursday after landing the previous morning for service with Monaco Air.
"Antonov is a big customer of ours," said Monaco Air president and co-owner Mike Magni. "It's one of many customers making international tech stops with us."
The 226-foot, 800,000-pound aircraft refueled and received other services in Duluth on its way to Marquette, Mich., from Incheon, South Korea.
Magni said he and fellow owner Don Monaco have marketed the company heavily to international customers traveling to and from Europe and the Far East to destinations on either U.S. coast.
Customers take on fuel, clear customs, get catering and have their lavatory and water tank serviced. Monaco Air also supplies concierge service for crewmembers - arranging overnight stays and local travel.
The Antonov was one of about 300 to 400 international technical stops per year in Duluth.
"Duluth has a lot of things going for it," Magni said, explaining its place equidistant from other places halfway around the world. "A big part of it is location."
The Antonov is a Russian craft designed to fit military vehicles and other cargoes into its 120-foot-long hold. Its bigger brother, the An-225, is the largest aircraft in the world.
The An-124 deploys landing gear that resemble caterpillar legs and features two engines on either wing.
"It's actually a very high-performing airplane," Magni said. "It takes off quickly and is not nearly as loud as some of the other jets we have flying in here."