Burt Rutan was allowed to go through the Lun ekranoplan in Russia
Russia’s ‘Caspian Sea Monsters’ captivated not only military intelligence during the late twentieth century, but also the public at large. Huge aircraft-like vessels that could skim across the sea in ground effect at high speed were a completely new concept, with no real equivalent in the west, but ultimately the idea fell from grace and development appears now to have all but ceased.
Burt Rutan however, may well give the idea a new lease of life. Part of a team that went to Russia to investigate ekranoplans in the early 1990s, he is now revisiting the idea in his retirement. He was getting bored so has set about researching a personal ekranoplan/seaplane design, able to skim across lakes but also fly out of ground effect in order to reach rivers and lakes farther afield. It is at this moment in time, very much a hobby interest for Burt, and by his own admission may not even get built.
No doubt aviation and nautical enthusiasts will be keenly waiting further news of Burt Rutan’s ‘Model 372-3’ as it has been designated, with great interest over the coming months.