The Ekranoplan

The ekranoplan, the monster of the Caspian Sea, was a Soviet-era aircraft nearly 74 meters in length and weighing 380,000 kgs fully loaded. (In contrast, the C-17 is 53 m long and weighs 265,350 kg fully loaded.) This enormous craft relied on ground effect to stay aloft, where it was capable of 297 knots. Flying close to the ground or water increases the possible lift on wings through a “cushioning effect” that increases pressure on the lower wing surface and by disrupting the formation of wingtip vortices which typically reduce lift through downwash.

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