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MM Blog: A Low-Flying German Boat

Here's a look at vehicle designed for both water and air travel.

FlyShip, a German manufacturer of low-flying, boat-like seaplanes is working on a new version of their decades-old AirFish vehicle — which are legally boats, but can fly like very low-skimming planes.

By taking advantage of the ground effect in aerodynamics, in which a vehicle flying fast and low generates lift under the wings and reduces drag, makes the plane almost float above the surface of the sea.

In 1992, Popular Science covered a much earlier version of the AirFish, noting that the low-flying planes could literally fly under the radar. Plus, “the potential efficiency of ground-effect flight might give such craft enormous range as compared with aircraft” could be useful as an anti-submarine weapon.

The proposed next-generation flying ship would operate like a shallow boat in harbors, a hovercraft while building speed and then a low-flying plane on the open water. It could even hop small islands or modest obstacles in its way.


Is there a market for the AirFish? What potential obstacles do you see with this vehicle’s design?

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