Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Flashmob Ekranoplan

Grind effect vehicle
  [vote for,

Ekranoplaneti become much more efficient as their wing area increases.

I therefore envisage this scheme working in a sort of cooperative, flashmob kind of a way.

Simply arrange for several thousand cyclists to converge on Hackney Downs one morning. Each cyclist bears an 8x4 sheet of plywood on their head, with straps running under their armpits.

Volunteers with long arms and nailguns will also be needed.

As the beplywooded cyclists converge, they park next to eachother in a testudo-style formation, overlapping their plywood boards which are then joined by the nailgunners.

Once the formation reaches a critical size (say 50- 100 cyclists on a side), they all start pedalling quite gently. At a few mph, the entire formation will rise majestically several feet into the air, supported easily by the ground effect.

Steering can be accomplished by the cyclists on the extreme left and right of the leading edge, simply by flexing their boards.

Of course, propulsion will be lost once the cyclists leave the ground. To resolve this, the starting point can be a gentle incline (which would allow for an almost unlimitless ground-effect glide), or the nailgunners can abandon their nailguns and instead grab the tow-ropes dangling from the front row of cyclists.

MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2011


       Our close (if unbeknownst to them) associates the Mythbusters already did this, only without the bicycles and nailguns, which I see as the real strength of this plan. They were actually trying for a 'plywood parachute', but Jamie did speculate that Ground Effect might come into play. It didn't work out well for poor Adam.
Alterother, Oct 12 2011

       //become much more efficient as their wing area increases// not quite: the amount of lift that's lost at the tips is pretty constant based on chord, although the greater the chord the higher your ground effect maximum can be.
FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2011

       The bicycles and nailguns are, as you note, rather a key part of this.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2011

       [ft] you're quite right, and the actual efficiency depends heavily on aspect ratio as well as total area. Howevertheless, what tends to happen is that lift per unit area rises dramatically as you get further away from the edge, so a big square wing has way, way more lift than a small square one.   

       Of course, the greatest ground effect can be attained by eliminating the edges altogether, which no doubtless accounts for the elegant efficiency of the Dyson Sphere. What with that and those tornado vacuum cleaner, he was one smark cookie.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2011

       It's the length of the chord (from the front to the back of the wing) that determines the <dammitwhatsitcalled> lift loss at the tips as the air simply rolls over from bottom to top. So if you've a wing that loses 4 foot on each side: 8ft, then the difference between an 8ft wing (pretty well nothing in the way of lift) and a 40ft wing (32 ft effective) is quite a bit obviously, but between that and a 60 ft wing (52ft effective), not so much and probably made up for by the increased bendiness from using unreinforced plywood.   

       When you see an airliner with winglets at the tips of the wings, that's what those are for: to prevent the air from rolling up over the wing sideways; normally it's the last 4-5ft of wing that does this, but the winglets make it easier to park.   

       Dyson's good but his idea of putting all the dirt-creating things into bubbles to keep from soiling the place is a bit odd.
FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2011

       Yeah, but you've got to admire the way he handled Spinks.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2011

       // make it easier to park. //   

       This is a Boeing we're talking about. An 800-rider bicycle- and-nailgun-powered plywood ekranoplan would probably be easier to park than that. Especially with winglets.
Alterother, Oct 12 2011

       This idea is completely whacked (+).
normzone, Oct 12 2011

       //The bicycles and nailguns are, as you note, rather a key part of this//   

gisho, Oct 12 2011

       I'll second that.
Alterother, Oct 12 2011


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