Flying Boat


Not many pilots take-of from a carrier which is also taking off. At lift off air speed, peak engine speed, fast increase of prop bite, then rise vertically from the deck. First task , drop back and check the water wings were retracting. The two long hulls beneath, had the outside blades already stowed, with the inners folding up, just above the keels.

Second job, climb to patrol altitude with the back seat switching on under body radar and the links to the carrier. To be safe the G.E.F. needed eyes up high to clear forward and each side. A ground effect freighter had a trailing central vortex that would damage sea or air vehicles. Various humourists called them try-tri- marine, flying barges or winged keels, all alluding to the multiple wing system. At a hundred knot cruise all wings could slope forward, to push the lift back under the craft. Three sets of wings each side, the first longest and narrow chord, the second below shorter and wider, the third again below and behind almost a rectangle, virturally a flap or an elevator. The six elevators spread out on the craft making weight trimming easy. The six sets of wings folding up when on the water for loading and unloading.

The second patrol plane had taken off and was climbing to a higher altitude and further ahead for long range vision. Both planes % also sent back colour vision for the passengers and crew. The patrol plannes engines podded onto the fuselage behind the wings, allowing the back seat to be in front of the wings.

The back seat had the vision of a helicopter while the front seat had such a view it was scary, at night almost a religious experience. The back seat operator reversed the camera to show the passengers the view of the G.E.F. flying across the ocean. At patrol altitude it looked to be on the sea with the air intakes just above the water. Huge ducted fans driven by jet engines exhausting under the hull and between the keels, helping the ground effect lift. The top front of the main body was the optimum fan position.

The patrol craft being faster had a weaving course to give the bridge the best vision and radar coverage. Something in the water needed checking, an intermittent return left of track. Dropping down and slowing with high angle of attack angle, they eye balled a floating shipping box. The bridge gave them clearance to return to patrol and the navy was given the location for action. The freighter bridge personel came up from patrol vessels and air freight companies. With satellite links, multiple engines, radio, radar and video links and up to two days a trip a crew of ten had enough to keep them busy. A two day trip gave a flight length of four thousand miles with food and sleeping time thrown in. The patrol personel had a day flight time of two hours and one and a half hours for night flights.

The top deck had a raising air- diffuser to allow the patrol craft to reboard/ land, coming in at cruising speed to touch down, be locked down and shut off. Elevated down for another craft and crew to take their place. Systems check, refuel and time off.

The video link from the high air patrol was routed to the crew quarters only, as they were observing a patrol vessel on policing duty. This was a sea craft with the ability to be a miniature air craft carrier. Also with twin hulls and a top deck, these twin hulls were submerged tubes with electric motor driven propellers. One at the front and one at the back, both enclosed with exit ports. The above water deck held the generators, fuel, aircraft and everything needed for a few weeks at sea. Being able to travel at high speed they could launch and retrieve air patrol craft with their short flight deck. The GEF pilots had been on these patrols and were watching a retrieval. This had been training for being the eyes of the freighters. The vessel on screen was now speeding up for an air craft to land on it's deck. This speed difference was not spoken about as it gave the vessels the ability to be random as far as any kind of avaricious people were concerned The crews on both vessels knew of each other and were taking action to stay out of each others way. The flight or voyage was to be a day and a half with light freight, perishables, mail and passengers. On almost one time zone from south to north Pacific, with time in port to load and unload. The crew could do some sight seeing. The next trip was to be across the Pacific before a back load to base. A little over a week on duty with thousands of miles of travel to cover.

The satellite weather coverage was crucial to their flight planning even to using the rotating storm edges for a tail wind. The rougher water did affect the lift performance but a tail wind was where you found it. The flight crew had a fan tail observation room with a picture window , to relax in during off duty time. Watching the vortex curl any spray into different shaped rainbows. The duty cycle of the patrols could be high stress, but avoiding weather systems made Being able to overlook most of the world's oceans was the bonus which made the calling attractive.

Copyright © Jack Beresford