Technology: Assault on an Air Cushion

The 65-ft. landing craft that skittered across the water and up a Lake Erie beach last week looked like a product out of science fiction, a warship from some future conflict. Huge fans to port and starboard blasted downward into sand and foam; giant propellers in the stern shoved the vehicle along as it carted its cargo of armed marines through a mock invasion. The strange craft moved at speeds up to 80 m.p.h. without touching either land or water.

To the military observers on the shore, though, the scene was less a picture of the future than a...

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