back to article Virginia school board learns a hard lesson... and other stories

Welcome to this week's gallimaufry of gaucheness, as we present a selection of daft stories to make you glad that you're not that person. Virginia school board gets thoroughly schooled We begin with a cautionary tale from the US state of Virginia, where a member of the Henrico County school board fell victim to one of the …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

    Another good video on the ekranoplan and how it was discovered can be found here.

    An interesting concept, to be sure, but its use is limited to bodies of water that have no waves.

    The Caspian Sea, or the Mediterranean are viable areas for a ground-effect transport, but I doubt the Atlantic or the Pacific are calm enough to see this kind of vehicle survive.

    If DARPA wants an ekranoplan for the Great Lakes, fine, but it won't be transporting troops from San Fransisco to Hawaii any time soon.

    Then again, if you don't try, you'll never succeed.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

      An interesting concept, to be sure, but its use is limited to bodies of water that have no waves.

      They're not likely to find much use in built-up areas, certainly, but they' be good for crossing salt flats, rocky deserts, some marshes ... anywhere that's basically flat.

      1. revenant

        "...anywhere that's basically flat"

        I guess it would also be handy for crossing the snowy Arctic and Antarctic wastes.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: "...anywhere that's basically flat"

          I guess it would also be handy for crossing the snowy Arctic and Antarctic wastes.

          It would if those were reasonably flat.

    2. the small snake
      Alien

      Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

      If your ekranoplan is big enough all waves are small. Interesting question is then: power from Sun scales as linear size of ekranoplan squared: how does drag go? If it is less than squared then it is possible to make an ekranoplan which can fly for ever over the oceans. If not then obviously will just need suitable nuclear power I suppose. Will start work on scifi story about vast generation-ekranoplans flying over oceans for thousands of years, probably because land has become uninhabitable due to unexplained catastrophe to be revealed in next volume of story.

      Edit: curses this seems to be close to Charlie Stross story mentioned in comments.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

        Drag is proportional to the square of velocity, so the power required to overcome drag is proportional to its cube. So sorry, no solar powered wave glider.

        1. the small snake
          Alien

          Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

          Is not velocity which matters: is linear size of aircraft. Very large aircraft could fly relatively slowly. Not actually sure it can, but also not sure velocity has to go like linear size.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

          But drag is proportional to frontal area.

          Lift is proportional to wing area

          And cargo/engine space is proportional to volume.

          So looking good for any insane tech billionaires out there ...

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

            Well the bigger problem is that rogue waves can reach heights of 20+ meters even in relatively calm (i.e. not a big storm) conditions and higher in a storm which a big slow craft could not outrun or steer around.

            So this craft between have wing surface areas measuring in square kilometers, at least, if it wants to make the math for the ekranoplan work.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

      Seems like the Suez canal would be the best place to use one, admittedly it would have to be narrow enogh to pass super pamanamax container ships.

      Or perhaps, on the Nile or Mississippi rivers.

      Why wouldn't they just put sponsoons on a C-5?

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

        Why wouldn't they just put sponsoons on a C-5?

        Not even Sir Clive is mad enough to try that!

    4. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

      An aircraft enters ground effect ~1 wing-length (1/2 wing span) from the surface. The bigger your craft gets, the less sea state matters (albeit flying at 30metres in storm conditions poses it's own challenges, even if you're notionally clearing the waves). Launch/Recovery becomes the main challenge because sooner or later you have to drop back into the water (unless you build a runway down to the water's edge to enable land-based operations, but that brings its own challenges).

      Nonetheless, Brittany Ferries are investigating a coastal-travel oriented passenger model from Boston-based REGENT for cross-Channel services. 180mph, no airport security. Certain Mediterranean operators are also expressing interest for island hopping.

    5. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "DARPA wants an ekranoplan"

      > is limited to bodies of water that have no waves

      Bathtubs...

      Seriously, it seems to combine the limitations of a plane and the limitations of a ship, without having any strong advantage over either of them. There must be a reason the Soviet (and later Russian) military dropped the project, isn't it. I think they might have had some reasons to drop them after building them and testing them for decades. (Not lack of money, they had enough to keep all the other stuff.)

      But well, new and shiny. Probably served with AI on the side.

  2. Whiskers

    Perhaps motorways could be re-purposed as ekranoplan tracks, after all the cars have been banned.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      If the sea level rises sufficiently far, they'll repurpose themselves.

  3. Julz

    Why

    Not just ask Boeing...

    https://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2002/september/i_pw.html

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Why not just ask Boeing?

      Depends on the batteries, flight sensors and software deployed?

  4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Unfortunate hyphenation

    "Wing-in-ground-effect" rather suggests lithobraking, or at least lithosteering.

    For fans of Ekranoplans, see Charlie Stross' Missile Gap – Yuri Gagarin on a monster, nuclear powered Ekranoplan exploring a huge world in the LMG with multiple copies of Earth on it.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Unfortunate hyphenation

      Thank you - something from Charlie I hadn't come across.

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    One reason

    why the caspian sea monster failed is because the Soviet navy said "Its not a boat" while the Soviet airforce said "its not a plane"

    However , it must have been very appealing to the Soviets to have a sea monster loaded with 50 anti-ship missiles approaching a US carrier group at 250 mph at 60 feet and then firing.....

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: One reason - internecine fighting

      It's reminiscent of the US Army vs. Air Force fight where the Army wanted a slow close air support airplane and the Air Force said no, airplanes are our bailiwick, and we don't do slow. So the Army developed helicopters to get around this.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: One reason - internecine fighting

        See also the V22 Osprey

    2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

      Re: One reason

      Well, it looks like the beastie in the video only has 6 missile tubes on its back, though that's enough to spoil any individual ship's day.

      I think a(nother) major factor in the technology being dropped was the problem of salt water corrosion on the airframe and in particular the engines.

  6. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Tactical uses

    a sea monster loaded with 50 anti-ship missiles approaching a US carrier group at 250 mph at 60 feet and then firing.....

    Might have been halfway feasible at the time these were developed, but even then I'd expect it not to have been their primary use case. Carrier groups in a war zone tend to have patrol aircraft up. Those would spot the ekranoplan(s) hundreds of miles out, allowing attack aircraft to get airborne, or just getting sea-to-sea missiles launched in their general direction. And ekranoplans are way less maneuvrable than fighter jets. They would probably not even be a match against the better WW2 carrier based prop planes, given their respective speeds and lack of defensive armament on the 'plans.

    My guess is that they would primarily have been used for anti-submarine action and softening up land-based defences that they can get within missile range of.

  7. Daedalus

    100 tons?

    That's two Lockheed C-5 Galaxy flights. And C-5's are faster and can go to many more places.

    It's always amazing how people tout cargo capacity of some wondrous flying machine without comparing it to what's already out there, or simple ground transport. I'm looking at you, "modern airship" developers.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: 100 tons?

      Airships have their use cases.

      Hauling stuff into (or out of) places that don't have suitably-sized landing strips, for instance. They also have their restrictions, of which weather is probably the largest factor. Still, they're being built and used.

  8. RedRichie

    Mike Oxlong sheds a silent tear

    ...whilst Bendyb Anana looks on and weeps.

    1. Spoobistle

      Re: Mike Oxlong sheds a silent tear

      Not to mention Emma Royde, who's itching to make her presence felt.

      But Wayne Kerr is a perfectly respectable company making electronic test equipment for the past 75 years.

  9. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
  10. skeptical i
    Devil

    hungarian phrasebook?

    My ekranoplan is full of eels.

  11. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Total nightmare for other seafarers.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A lot of substances fluoresce. It doesn't seem very likely that there would be an evolutionary advantage in these wasps producing some compound specifically for its fluorescence. It's more likely to be either something produced for some other reason or simply a waste product and just happens to fluoresce.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Paper nests are made by chewing wood and other cellulose fibers; it's possible that they found source that happened to carry fluorescent dyes.

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Help! I'm Being Repressed

    Welcome to this week's gallimaufry of gaucheness

    As a left-handed person, I vigorously protest against this derogative term used by the right-handed community who oppressed us left-handed ones for centuries.

    1. PerlyKing
      Coat

      Re: Help! I'm Being Repressed

      It's a sinister conspiracy!

  14. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Rev Cooper, who later admitted to Newsweek that he was not a Simpsons fan

    My 2nd best forum prank. An old guy on an Edinburgh forum said he couldn't watch The Simpsons as it was just too obscene and blasphemous. I told him there was a new cartoon show he'd like instead, made for people like him, and quoted the opening lyrics to Family Guy. He said that sounds much better, thanked me and he'd be sure to watch it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rev Cooper, who later admitted to Newsweek that he was not a Simpsons fan

      South Park would've been fine too. And it's miles better than FG.

      "I'm going down to South Park, gonna have myself a time. Friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DARPA have issued their request for information: to see if these problems can be solved,

    I have THE perfect solution, the ekranoplan(e) itself would be preceded by a fleet of b-52 converted into flying veg oil tankers. They would then spray oil ahead of the path of the ekranoplan, in order to quell the rough seas. Alternatively, an up-side variant: F-104s shooting rockets (ask the Soviets, they know!) to disperse clouds that generate adverse weather conditions that generate rough seas. Alternatively, instead of one bigass ekranoplan, make 1,000 micro-ekranoplanes small enough to dodge individual waves. As to landmass and the irritatingly rolling terrain, a mass para-drop of cat-dozers would do the trick, really simple solutions to really simple problems! Or, thinking out of the box, if the waves are too much of a problem, how about gliding BELOW the surface, huh?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: DARPA have issued their request for information: to see if these problems can be solved,

      how about gliding BELOW the surface

      I can't remember which game it was, but there was one computer game where the programmers hadn't allowed for daft settings so the best strategy was to attack with your submarines 50 feet up in the air and your aircraft 50 feet below water thus making them both totally undetectable as sonar doesn't work in air and radar doesn't work in water. [Or something of that ilk.]

      1. Whiskers

        Re: DARPA have issued their request for information: to see if these problems can be solved,

        Thunderbirds could do it. On a 405 line TV you couldn't even see the strings, sometimes.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the article

    “No one wanted to go with me,” he explained to The Atlantic's Katherine J Wu. “There is no light at all, and snakes, spiders, insects everywhere.

    No! Who would have thought? Life is full of suprises isn't it

  17. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

    1.25 metres?

    It would be potentially very difficult to manage a reasonably long sea crossing (say the atlantic) while being able to guarantee that you wouldn't encounter any waves over four feet during the crossing. But that isn't the biggest potential problem. The biggest problem would be encountering seagoing vessels.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 1.25 metres?

      Not to mention "Rogue Waves", which it seems are nowhere near as rare as first thought.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paper lanterns?

    "under UV black light"

    Pity. I was looking forward to the introduction of self-lighting Vietnamese paper lanterns. Possibly marketed as also containing 100% organic home-defense mechanisms.

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