In search of the Caspian Sea Monster
Strange sightings on Google Earth
As indeed they were, or at least one of them. A quick Google Earth jaunt down to Kaspiysk reveals this fine view of an Orlyonok parked up:
There's more: sitting close by is this rather magnificent beast:
It is, as ekranoplan aficionados among you will know, the original military version of the "Lun" ("Hen Harrier"), designed as a sea-launched anti-shipping missile platform.
The 280 tonne, 74 metre long M-160 Lun was another ekranoplan developed from Alexeev designs. One was built in 1987, which entered service in 1989. A second example was under construction when the Soviet Union collapsed and, despite subsequent refitting as a search-and-rescue aircraft, remained unfinished when the authorities effectively pulled the plug on ekranoplan funding.