Airborne Awesomosity


The mostly-Russian concept of the ekranoplan is something we tend to discuss around here with a wistful tone of what-might-have-been. It’s a highly-specialized conveyance that likely makes sense on the vastness of the Black Sea or some beautiful frozen lake in the Urals but maybe not so much here in arid Alberta or ironing-board Kansas or wherever else our esteemed readership may reside. So imagine this Toasterfile’s surprise when I stumbled across ekranoplan action going on in South Korea, a land that does not have a single natural lake.

It seems the Koreans’ desire to become an industrial powerhouse stretches to the remotest dark corners of aeronautics. We all know about the recent wild successes of automaker Hyundai and subsidiary Kia, but South Korea also has a fairly well-established aeronautics industry. Among other types, the Koreans make an advanced jet trainer / multi-role fighter, but I was surprised to learn of the burgeoning WIG (wing-in-ground-effect) sector. A quick scan of the Internet turns up the twin-engined craft pictured below and a few others on which I can find no details.

But this is where my missive gets potentially awesome. There’s a story posted on the Jung-ang Ilbo news site about the testing of a five-seat ekranoplan called the Aron-7. The design is meant to have a cruising speed of 200km/h and can climb to 150 metres to avoid North Korean invasion fleets obstacles. The type is aimed at military use but there are plans to develop further models with up to 20 seats as commercial transport. In addition there is talk of regular transport service with the Aron-7 beginning shortly between the port city of Pohang and the remote island of Ulleung-do, located in the East Sea (or Sea of Japan if you live in Japan).

“So why is this “awesome”?”, you might ask. Well, I’m travelling to South Korea next year to indulge my makgeolli and pajeon addiction (and visit dear friends, but whatever) and Ulleung-do is one of those places I always meant to visit during the six years I lived there. As part of our premium service to our readership I will take my Atomic Toasters credentials to Pohang and possibly become the first Atomic Toasters fellow to get a ride in an ekranoplan. I can’t tell you how many exclamation marks I had to delete off that sentence – picture Dr Strangelove’s out of control hand.

Click here to see some Aron-7 action on the yewtubes, replete with a rousing ode to the majesty of the ekranoplan. If you know or discover more, kindly pass on the deets to

  • Here are your exclamation marks back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Oh, and also…


      • Number_Six


      • texlenin

        Mein Fuhrer! I can Fly!

  • The Professor

    Very cool. It's good to see that someone is trying to something with the ground effect concept.

  • B72

    Get specs on fuel consumption. That's where these things shine. I always thought flying in ground effect increased lift, but it turns out it reduces drag.

    • highmileage_v1

      If I remember my basic aerodynamics correctly, ground effect increases stall speed but reduces drag. I'm still not convinced of the practicality of the Ekranoplan. Lower drag (good), increased hull weight (bad), can't climb above a low altitude (bad), etc. They are cool though, especially the Soviet era ones.

  • Do you need someone to go with you? Maybe to carry your bags, drink with you, and RIDE THE EKRANOPLAN WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Number_Six

      For sure. Korea is a terrible place to travel without a guide but with an insider, you'll have a blast. And then RIDE THE EKRANOPLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • texlenin

    Didn't Boeing (some US warmonger?) have plans
    for a super heavy ekranoplan for rapid troop
    deployments a few years back?

  • What is the benefit over regular fixed wing aircraft? The limited ceiling seems to be a significant drawback. Why not either have a boat, hovercraft, plane or helicopter?