Towing Gone Wrong Left Russia's Ekranoplan Stranded like a Beached Whale
Is it a plane? Is it a boat? Neither, it's the ekranoplan!
Ok, so it is, in fact, a combination of the two and could be called a flying missile boat of sorts. The Cold War-era Soviet Union ekranoplan was unique in naval and air force history, and is now sitting on the shores of a beach taking in water from the Caspian Sea.
Due to be showcased as the centerpiece in a museum, the last standing ekranoplan was being towed towards its final resting place when something went amiss, leaving it stranded like a beached whale.
A sad end
As per Forbes, people have been attempting to tug the craft out of the water, sadly to no avail.
The once-mighty wing-in-ground (WIG) effect aircraft was an aerodynamic experiment led by the USSR. The plane was designed to fly just above the water's waves, benefitting from the aerodynamic effect called WIG, where air is compressed by the closeness of the wings to the ground, which creates a cushion effect and lifts the plane up.
This method of flying so close to the ground reduces drag, adding speed and endurance.
The Lun Class ekranoplan was the only one to be weaponized, as much as a missile boat. And the ekranoplan currently basking in the waves of the Caspian Sea was the only one ever completed with arms. The end of the Soviet Union brought the experimental aircraft construction to a grinding halt.
So the ekranoplan has been sitting without any action since then, until now. A big question mark remains as to whether or not the plane will be successfully pulled out of the water and brought to the museum.