Over two and half decades ago, in the fall of 1993, American representatives from the Pentagon, the CIA, and NASA, as well as Burt Rutan witnessed the last flight of the world’s only serial production beach assault ekranoplan. The A-90 Orlyonok, bort number “26”.
The A-90 uses ground effect to fly a few meters above the surface.
The Russians classify it as Ekranoplan Class B as it can achieve an altitude of 3,000 m (9,800 ft), placing between Class A – which is limited to ground effect, and Class C, which exploits the ground effect only during take-offs and landings.
In total, five type A-90 ekranoplans were built, the last of them (bort number “26”) was decommissioned in 2007. These are the photos from its last flight. Photo: Dmitry Grynyuk.