A Wing-In-Ground Effect Aircraft was a type of airplane that flew close to the ground. It was more efficient than a conventional airplane.
(Note: The background section of this page uses most of the same words as the conventional aircraft page of Terra Futura to save time.)
China was the first to experiment with fixed-wing flight. The Chinese were the inventors of the kite. Kites were being flown for thousands of years in China before they came to Europe. Fixed-wing flight began to advance. In 1799, Sir George Cayley came up with a concept called a glider. He finally succeeded in 1853 with his own glider. Other scientists created their own gliders afterwards. Then, on December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers successfully flew the Wright Flyer. This was the first airplane.
Early airplanes used a piston engine that drove a propeller. This was the kind of plane used in World War I. After World War I, planes were used for mail. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic Ocean. This helped bring about passenger planes. The first successful passenger plane was the DC-3 in 1936. The plane was pioneered by Lindbergh's old company which now merged with other airlines to create American Airlines. The DC-3 would be the standard transport plane of World War II. After World War II, planes started to get faster. The DC-6 was the first four-engine pressurized plane of American Airlines. In 1959, American, Pan-Am, and other airlines started buying the Boeing 707, the first successful jet plane. By the early 21st century, the biggest airplane was the Airbus A380, introduced in 2005. By that time, planes were becoming more efficient and more automated. Soon, the designs would be radical.
Tech Level: 9-10
One problem facing aircraft in the 20th century was wing vortices. These were created on the tips of the wings. They caused down draft on the upper side of the wings. Wing vortices also created drag all over. But if an aircraft could fly closer to the ground, then the vortex effect did not occur. A plane could then operate faster and more efficiently. Some planes were specialized for this purpose. Wing-In-Ground Effect Aircraft could be larger than conventional aircraft. From the Flarecraft L-325 to the Lun Ekranoplan, designs for such aircraft had been around since the 1960s. However, it was the Boeing Pelican that brought this type of airplane to reality. It could transport 750 tons of cargo over 10,000 miles of ocean. Later designs went over other flat surfaces such as desert, tundra, marshlands, abd even highways. In the late 21st century, Wing-In-Ground Effect Aircraft were replaced by maglev vehicles.