Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flying Boat

A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can both float, granting the aircraft buoyancy, and give aerodynamic sheath. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage. Flying boats were some of the largest aircraft of the first half of the 20th century, superseded in size only by bombers developed during World War II. Their advantage lay in using water instead of expensive land-based runways, making them the basis for international airlines in the mid-war period. They were also commonly used for maritime patrol and air-sea rescue.

The craft class or type came about after The Daily Mail offered a large monetary prize for an aircraft with transoceanic range in 1914 prompting a collaboration between British and American air pioneers, resulting in the Curtiss Model H. Following World War II, their use gradually tailed off, partially because of the investments in airports during the war. In the 21st century, flying boats maintain a few niche uses, such as for dropping water on forest fires and for air transport around archipelagos, wilderness access in wilder undeveloped territories such as lands north of South Dakota and roadless regions of Central Africa. Many modern seaplane variants, whether float or flying boat types are convertible amphibians—planes where either landing gear or flotation modes may be used to land and take off.

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