Legendary aerospace engineer Burt Rutan is working on a new project, a high-speed winged boat that can double as a seaplane, so he can fly between lakes and rivers near his new home in Coeur d’Alene, a lakeside resort in northern Idaho.
He has his sights set on designing a short-takeoff and landing (STOL) plane. “Getting out and exploring little lakes and rivers in a STOL seaplane is a fantasy, I think, for a pilot,” he told the Experimental Aircraft Association.
His plans draw inspiration from large wing Russian ships or “ekranoplans” built during the Cold War (see below). Essentially boats with wings and aircraft engines, they could rise up to 20 or 30 metres above the water. Rutan is thinking of a much smaller wing-boat that could reach high speeds in boat-mode on the water then take off and fly.
(Image: Vincent Rollet/Flickr)