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Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page C16

It's a Bus! It's a Plane!

• Take a look at the biggest passenger airplane ever built.

The Airbus A380 made its first public appearance yesterday in France in the world's largest airplane hangar. French President Jacques Chirac called the plane the "cruise ship of the skies."

So how big is big?

• It's a double-decker plane with room for as many as 800 passengers.

• An eight-story-high curtain hid the plane (that's more than 86 feet high) until its debut.

• Its wings are so big, you could park 70 cars on them.

• The plane is so wide, some airports need to build new runways to accommodate it.

• Its landing gear has 22 wheels (compared with 18 for a 747 jet).

The A380 still hasn't performed the most important feat for an airplane: It hasn't flown. Its first test flight is set for April. As many as 150 of the planes could be flying by next year.

You Want Ice With That?

• What happens when a giant iceberg meets an Antarctic glacier?

You get a frigid demolition derby.

But this isn't a bad riddle. Iceberg B15-A is about 100 miles long (makes the Airbus A380 seem puny). It broke off from an Antarctic ice shelf about five years ago and for the last few months has been heading toward a glacier known as Drygalski Ice Tongue.

Scientists think the iceberg will slam into the glacier. Such a crash could actually be a good thing: It could break up ice and make it easier for ships to get to research stations. An ice crash also could boost penguin populations by making it easier for the birds to get to food.

Big News in Books

• The two biggest awards in children's literature were announced Monday. (Have you figured out the theme of today's news?)

"Kira-Kira" by Cynthia Kadohata won the John Newbery Medal, which honors outstanding writing for young people. "Kitten's First Full Moon" by Kevin Henkes won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustration.

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