A desire to keep a west-coast shipyard busy during the seven idle months of the year has resulted in the invention of an unusual boating novelty. It isn’t a boat. It isn’t an airplane. But it combines the thrill of both. The latest water thriller, the invention of Russell and Milton Robertson of Alameda, Calif., is a waterplane. Observation of outboard racing craft with their prows rearing out of the water as the powerful little motor at the stern pushes them along the surface at high speeds gave them the idea. Why not put wings to the craft and lift it completely out of the water?
After six months of experiment, the brothers built a craft that actually flew – that raised itself by its own wind resistance ten feet into the air – attached, however, to the outboard motor on pontoons, one supporting the fuselage, the other carrying the outboard motor. Water and aircraft features were combined. Both pontoons are connected in tandem with parallel stringers working in swivels. This allows the forward pontoon to take to the air. A thirty-two-foot wing is carried on the foward pontoon as well as the complete fuselage, and motor and steering controls. The waterplane is controlled similarly to an airplane. A “joystick” operates the ailerons and elevators. A rudder for steering is under each pontoon and is operated by foot controls. When the motor is started, the plane travels about twenty-five feet before attaining planing speed, and in a hundred feet more the forward pontoon lifts out of the water. The thrill of zooming from the water at a sustained speed of forty to fifty miles an hour marks a new era in boating.