November 6, 2006 As the knowledge of the world begins to rush rather than seep across the barriers of language and distance via the internet, whole new areas of regionalised human endeavour are becoming visible to the world, and the glorious history of the Russian aerosled is a case in point. H. G. Wells once wrote, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative.” Getting from point A to point B has not always been as easy as it is today. Man’s need to cross the deserts, oceans, forests, mountains and the skies above them has seen many fascinating conveyances built specifically for a given task and the aerosled was devised to cross the vast frozen Russian tundra. It evolved from an adapted horse-drawn sleigh powered by a pusher prop 100 years ago to become a thriving ski-automobile industry and with sponsorship from the Russian Military in the Cold War era, developed capabilities that are truly extraordinary. The January Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auction is to include a fully-restored N007 Tupolev – the vehicle appears to be one of the early prototypes and is the only-known Russian-built aerosled to make it to the United States. Designed by Andrei Tupolev, one of the founders and key figures of Soviet Aviation, the N007 can propel through and protect its occupants from the sub-zero conditions common in the Northern Russian tundra. Powered by a 365 hp nine-cylinder radial engine it hovers just over water, marshland, ice or snow and given a flat stretch, is claimed to reach 80 mph. Part ground effect aircraft, part boat but mainly a sled, the N007 is a priceless example of human being’s ability to adapt and conquer any terrain. Over 800 examples were produced, but it’s a fair bet that this is one of the earliest and most authentic of this second generation aerosleds. Watch for our coverage of the new third generation aerosled later this week.
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