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Article Complements of the Gwinnett Daily Post 

Russian Boat one of kind

Jerry Schulte’s New Year’s resolution is different from ours. Lose weight? Way too simple. Schulte, a 62-year-old retired businessman living in Clarksville, wants to take his speedy Russian boat (don’t we all have one) on the open water. The native of Germany has tried his Tupolev C003 on a small pond, but longs to fly (literally) on a large lake.  “I would really like to take it on a big lake and let it rip,” Schulte said of his boat, which actually does fly at high speeds. “I have a feeling it really wants to go.”  So if you see this boat zinging past you on Lake Lanier, take a look. It should be interesting. If its high speeds and James Bond look doesn’t scare you.  The story behind the boat, on display Jan. 12 to 16 at the Atlanta Boat Show, is interesting enough.

Built by the Russians in the 1970s, the 26-foot vessel was designed as a rescue craft in arctic conditions. It starts with an air start (using pressured air) instead of batteries, since batteries freeze. It also is powered by an MP14 aircraft fighter engine, allowing it to move up to 150 mph across the water. Or in the air, which it does as it hovers at speeds of more than 50 mph. At its utmost speeds, it can pass over land of up to 850 feet in length and can jump over bushes up to three feet high.

After manufacturing three of the boats, the Russians found helicopters to be more efficient for arctic rescues. So only three C003 boats, which were inhabited by a pilot, a doctor and a mechanic on Russian missions, were ever made.  One hit a log and sank. One hit a log, jumped into a stand of trees and was destroyed. The other belongs to Schulte.  He acquired the C003 from a Russian general in 1999, taking the battered boat around the South for repairs from different specialists. He even has the original manual for the craft, written in Russian and marked “secret.”  “When I brought it home, my wife said, ‘What do you want with this piece of junk?’” Schulte said.  The piece of junk is now a popular attraction at boat shows. Schulte and his wife travel to show off the prized possession, for which the retiree was offered $385,000 for at a recent boat show.  But he’s not ready to get rid of the toy.  “I’m having too much fun with it,” he said. “People love it. I always create a traffic jam when I show it. My wife totally came around. I get all this free traveling and money that people are paying me to show it. It’s the perfect job for a retired guy like me.”

If only he could get that perfect trip across a lake in 2005.
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com.

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