It was the mid-1960s and the United States and Russia were both embroiled in Cold War secrets. When it came to winning a potential war, both countries were determined to find new ways to stay ahead of the other in technology and weapons. Each was determined to know what the other was doing so they could develop deterrents to foil any advantage the other country had.
American intelligence analysts that were responsible at the time for monitoring the Caspian Sea area came across quite interesting photos of a very odd-looking aircraft. The photos only showed a gigantic structure from above but did not provide a lot of answers. The craft had wide wings but they seemed to be truncated and there were questions of whether it would fly. What was this strange weapon and how would the Soviet Union expect to wield it?
In fact, this sea monster would achieve flight but only just above the waterline. The Ekranoplan was an airplane-like-vehicle that used ground effect to ride a cushion of air flew 10-20 feet above a flat surface of water. Because it was tested on the Caspian Sea, it would be known by NATO as the Caspian Sea Monster.
The Ekranoplan was powered by ten turbojet engines mounted high above the cabin. It was capable of 270 mph cruising speed and a range of 930 miles. At a height of 71 feet and a length of 301 feet, Russia’s Ekranoplan, nicknamed the Caspian Sea Monster, was the largest aircraft in the world during the period of 1966 to 1988. It would lose this title in 1988 only when the Soviet Union introduced its next giant, the Antonov AN-225 Mriya. The Ekranoplan would be lost to the sea in 1988 when it crashed during testing and sunk. The great video below goes into better detail the life and death of the Caspian Sea Monster.
When it comes to unusual sightings, think about what it must have been like to see this mammoth moving at high speed just above the waterline in the 1960s. Today with the Internet it may be easy to research and identify what that craft may be. But when the huge Ekranoplan was racing across the water during testing, it surely drew questions about visitors from outer space. It seems that the Russian Ekranoplan is back. This time though Russia has plans to use a smaller version in the Arctic.
If you want more details about this incredible aircraft and learn about ground effect, watch the informative video below. If you enjoy this video, please share our page with your friends and colleagues. If you like jet-powered aircraft then check out all our many other #JetFriday posts.