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Plane Can Fly Inches Over Water

WIGWhile browsing Google Earth last year, some users spotted an interesting sight at a naval base on a Chinese shore: runways heading directly into the ocean. Some people who may have seen such a landscape before might have questioned whether China was developing similar technology to that built by the Soviets during the Cold War, and nearly forgotten since.

On Tuesday, scientists from Tongji University in Shanghai announced that they had indeed designed a new model of the famous but largely unknown "wing-in-ground" (WIG) plane, Reuters reported. The plane, which can carry up to 4 metric tons (nearly 9,000 pounds), flies just 18 inches over the surface of the water, yet manages speeds of up to 180 mph.

To achieve these numbers, WIG planes use a technique called "ground effect" to achieve a high lift/drag ratio. Wings traveling close to the water (or ground) feel an extra lift by a cushion of air compressed underneath them. This enables the planes to carry extremely heavy loads while using significantly less fuel--in the case of the Tongji plane, about half that of a similar vehicle.

Read the full story after the jump.

Thanks, Michelle !

Link & Image: InventorSpot
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Ground effect craft are cool. More efficient than big boats, safer than being in the sky.

Wouldn't try turning one too sharply though.

Not being able to turn sharply would probably be one of the limitation of such a craft I think.

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