A surface effect vehicle makes most sense over water. As they rely on the presence of a ground plane to maintain lift, these types of vehicles are incapable of free-flight. That could be disastrous if piloted close to a ravine or cliff, but not so over water.
The over-water version of a tandem-duct platform would be useful for ship-to-shore or ship-to-ship transport as well as traversing shallow water, rivers, or marshland – where other vehicles have trouble. Coupled with the intuitive 3D user interface developed on our flying motorbike, the craft would become an aerial ATV ideal for recreation.
The idea is not new. A tandem-duct vehicle with floats was developed by the Piasecki Helicopter Company and flown by the Navy in the early 1960’s. The flights over water were filmed from above to record the spray patterns from its downwash. Those videos confirmed what was known – that the downwash does not recirculate and hinder the pilot’s vision, but disperses out and away from the vehicle.
Another benefit that was less anticipated was that the floats actually added lift in ground effect. In effect they created side-walls that contained the high-pressure flow below the vehicle and extended the benefits of ground effect to greater heights than was seen without them.
In the Floater craft shown – which is approximately 12 ft (3.7m) in length, it would be capable of carrying a pilot and passenger to heights of 10 ft (3.0m) before the benefits of ground effect would wane, and limit its ability to climb much further. That would clear most waves and provide an exhilarating ride.