Test Pilot Review: @Klapaucius K.R.A.S.S.H. Industries Gogol
K.R.A.S.S.H Industries Gogol - Supersonic Medium Regional Jet
Figures as Tested:
Fuel: 4900 kallons
Cruising speed: 1200m/s
Cruising altitude: 18,500m
Fuel burn rate: 2.32 kal/s
Ease of maintenance.
Maintenance seems like it would be complicated due to its alien-like airframe, and perhaps needed frequently due to unusual and unpredictable stresses on the aircraft. Its four cockpits bring pilot training costs into question. Technicians would need to be trained extensively for this aircraft, as it is so unlike any other.
Passengers are fitted in one of the four tunnel spaces, perhaps best described as a “water slide” like fuselage shape. It may be difficult for them to enter or exit with no door, and having to traverse up or down the twisted pax sections.
It is nothing of this world. Its insectoid features are formed of nightmarish complexity resembling the art of H.R. Geiger. The fact that it performs well is a testament to its designer. I like it.
The Gogol is sluggish on the runway and at speeds up to 150m/s. It requires a lengthy runway to take off from unless the fuel tanks are carefully trimmed. Once at speed it handles well, more so than expected for its size. Landing is surprisingly easy once it's no longer fuel laden, and its numerous landing gear make it difficult to damage upon landing, even in uneven terrain.
During an emergency evacuation, passengers and crew would certainly perish attempting to escape its labyrinth-like inner structure.
It was a cold Spring morning when I was being trucked up north to the K.R.A.S.S.H. Industries tarmac at the edge of the old military test range. I was told they were conducting the tests out there since it afforded some security for the tech they were developing, but in retrospect, I believe it was because they still couldn’t find out why some of their test pilots were going mad. I met Gunny Larson eight years ago at a fundraiser before he joined up at KRASSH as one of their lead pilots; we hadn’t spoken since his wife died, but I know he wasn’t the type to end up in an asylum. None of them were. They were military men, most of them, who had seen enough combat that they had hardened minds, but there was something about this new aircraft that changed them; broke them. I was assured by the KRASSH representative that the exotic fuels they were using on the early prototypes were responsible for what happened to them, and that was all in the past now. It reminded me of agent orange from the war--the brass never gave us a straight answer on that either. I couldn’t afford to argue with the rep since I needed the money. Not many outfits were looking for old test pilots those days with all the rookies out there. Especially not that far north of the Adirondacks. So that’s how I found myself on the tarmac of Adeline Field, with a fresh coat of morning frost glistening upon it. It was at the end of the freeway where I first saw the aircraft I was going to be testing. Its otherworldly shape and twisted impossible form looked in no way like any aircraft I had seen before. They called it the Gogol, I guessed after the Russian realist, but it was beyond words--there was something incarnate about. Its chitinous structure looked to be inspired by insects, the way the sonic intakes morphed up and around its body in a way that reminded me of dragonfly tails, ending in four sharp points at the rear. It was supported by six landing gear in an odd and clunky configuration in a way that was clear at least the landing gear was distinctly Terran in origin--as if the rest of it was made by a different designer who had no intention of the craft ever touching the ground. Strangely, the bulk of the weight was carried in the heavy gear on the front, with steering in the rear. The KRASSH representative must have noticed my hesitation, because he reassured me in that moment that everything had checked out and this was a completely new aircraft than the one used previously. I nodded and continued towards it. As I approached it, I realized that the center portion of the craft, the interior fuselage space where the passengers would sit, had no door or any means of entering that I could discern. I began to ask, but the rep simply assured me that I wouldn’t be testing that portion of the craft as he ushered me into the leftmost cockpit pod. I kept wondering how the passengers would fit--would some lean forward and some back along the twists and turns of the four passenger spaces, or would they be staggered in height? I wasn’t sure, but the thought was lost after I stepped inside. The cockpit had the distinct odor of turpentine, the same solution they used to clean medical bays during the war. The scent recalled fresh memories that had been buried for decades, and I had thought forgotten. The cockpit seemed standard enough, as if this part of the ship had been constructed to interface with the rest in a way a human could grasp. This theme of dual tonality continued through the startup process; familiar buttons aside labels of systems I’ve never heard of--I continued to be told that we wouldn’t be testing those and I needn’t mind them. I nodded and started along the rest of the checklist, completing it just as the sun rose above the mountains, evaporating the frost on the runway--the soft wisps of steam drifting off the pavement.
The startup sequence passed in a blur. I don’t recall most of it, except for when I hit the ignition switch on the four turbo ramjets and heard them howl to life with a shrieking vibration through the frame of the ship until they eventually got up to speed with a steady whine. I had spooled up jet turbines a thousand times, but something about those engines sent a shiver down my spine quickly followed by goosebumps. Maybe it was a frequency thing with the vibration, I couldn’t explain it. By then I was strapped into the seat and the rep had sealed the cockpit door behind me. They had explained in the briefing that the mountains would obscure their radio tower, so I might lose contact once I reach altitude. The aircraft was capable of a service ceiling well over 60,000ft, far beyond that of those when Adeline Field was built. For this test I was told--no warned--that I shouldn’t go above 60,000ft.
As I throttled up the engines roared to life. The plane crept forward down the tarmac, more sluggish than a subsonic aircraft, but that was expected from its turbo ramjet engines that had smaller air-breathing cores. Once in the air the craft was responsive for its size, perhaps unexpectedly so given its strange shape. I took her up to 55,500ft and settled her off there for further testing. At this altitude there wasn’t much yaw or pitch authority, but there wasn’t much air up there either. The craft performed exceptionally well for its size. Anything made of aluminum and titanium couldn’t possibly feel this nimble--so perhaps it wasn’t. There were rumors in the community that KRASSH had brought in the foremost materials science expert for the project and it was made of something...else entirely. I thought it was nonsense at the time, but my test experience had me rethinking that. Each of the planned tests checked out, and the craft eventually assumed a comfortable cruising speed of 1200m/s. Its fuel range was shorter than reported, but that could have been me being unfamiliar with the craft. I reached the turnaround point earlier than expected and entered the time in my log and that’s the last I remember. I awoke in a hospital bed at Aubrey Hill back in town with no memory of the rest of the flight. I was later told that I brought the aircraft in for a perfect landing and passed out in my chair halfway through our debriefing. They said it could have been fumes from the chemical agents used in the manufacturing of the new cockpit electronics--that being the first time they were used in flight. I didn’t buy it, but before I could complain they offered me twice my agreed upon rate, plus a settlement if I signed an NDA about my post-flight medical complications, and I knew I couldn’t afford to fight them on that, so I did, figuring I’d at least get paid for my troubles. Since then I’ve been having strange dreams about being back in the Gogol and pulling back on the flight stick, climbing steeply to see what she’s capable of, only to be transported to a place that looks nothing like Earth. Then I wake up. Each time I’ve had the dream I awake with a migraine that lasts for hours. I haven’t heard from KRASSH since, but I’m certain they continue to test their aircraft with new test pilots, perhaps using them to uncover features of the ship that even they aren’t aware of.
The KRASSH Gogol is a strong performer in the supersonic medium regional jet category. Airlines expect to pay considerably higher costs to operate supersonic aircraft, and the Gogol is no exception, but it performs very well in that role. Operational costs may be higher than other supersonic aircraft due to its unconventional design, but they may be offset by additional ticket sales--that same unconventional design may serve to attract customers.
We recommend Trans-Kerbin Airways purchase four KRASSH Gogols for further testing and cost-evaluation before a larger order is made, but it is a strong contender.