Big Iron engine and airplane company announced the first flight of the new
Razzle 200 airliner. Chief test pilot Frank Lee Candid emerged from the
cockpit shaken, dripping with sweat. He tried to muster a smile for the
cameras and blurted out, "Damn, I'm happy to be alive."
Regaining his composure, he said the airplane flew "well, and the test was
nearly according to plan." The only deviations from expected flight test
results were a few cases of high speed flutter and one brief but violent
control hard-over, responsible for the highly theatrical snap roll seen on
short final. Henri Flaque, company press agent, noted that the snap roll
showed the inherent strength of the Razzle 200 airframe, holding together
despite the 30% corkscrew twist of the empennage.
Aircraft systems performed "nearly flawlessly," Candid said. The sole
problem was in a landing gear actuator which began an uncommanded gear
retraction during what was supposed to be a simple high speed taxi run.
When the gear left the runway of its own accord, Candid said he was glad
for the opportunity to check out the 200's handling. The approach was
delayed briefly while the landing gear extended and retracted itself a
number of times until the hydraulic power unit burned out, fortunately
with the gear in a generally "down" position.
The new Thruster KY-20 turbofan was praised for retaining most of its
parts during the test flight. "That's one rugged engine," Flaque said.
Candid noted the fuel consumption was "frightening", adding that checks
were being made to assure that the fuel did flow through the engine and
not out of a large hole in the tank. Smoke emissions were said to be
well below Pittsburgh Valley standards.
Several questions to Candid had to be repeated at a louder volume, a
problem Candid laughingly dismissed to a minor, temporary deafness
caused by some "harmonic resonances and vibrations" experienced in the
cockpit. A slight window seal leak which sucked the cigarettes out of
his shirt pocket was the only other cockpit environment problem.
Candid, apparently thinking about his experiences, was still chuckling
under his breath, slowly and quietly, when asked whether he had
considered using the ejection seat, specially installed for the test
program. he seemed at that moment to remember the ejection handle still
in his rigidly clenched left hand, a few multicolored wires dangling
>From the end. Smiling sickly, he held it up for all to see, his hand
trembling from the muscle tension. "Guess I'm lucky this baby didn't
fire," he admitted. "We made the parachute, too."