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Perlan team reaches new height

An Airbus-sponsored team of volunteers striving to set a new glider altitude record while collecting data for science has logged another milestone over Argentina. The Airbus Perlan Mission II reports the Perlan 2 glider recently reached a peak altitude of 32,500 feet, though the plan is to ride a combination of mountain waves and polar vortex much higher than that.

A view from 26,000 feet from the tail of Perlan 2. Photo courtesy of Airbus Perlan Mission II.

The latest milestone, reported in an Aug. 2 news release, raises the bar a bit from the 30,690 feet attained in April over Minden, Nevada. The team is now flying its second season in El Calafate, Argentina. Pilots Jim Payne, Morgan Sandercock, Tim Gardner, and Miguel Iturmendi have completed a series of flights over the Patagonian region, one of few spots on earth where the convergence of mountain waves and polar vortex open a window of opportunity to soar higher than ever before.

The team hopes to break the current glider altitude record of 50,727 feet set in 2006 by the Perlan 1 team including pilots Einar Enevoldsen and Steve Fossett.

Science remains one of the primary mission objectives.

“Just last month the world witnessed another reminder of the importance of understanding climate change, with the fracture from the Antarctic ice shelf of an iceberg the size of the state of Delaware,” said Perlan Project CEO Ed Warnock, in a news release. “Airbus Perlan Mission II will allow us to study a range of atmospheric phenomenon that ultimately will give us more accurate models of our upper atmosphere and the climatic changes that matter to every world citizen.”

The data captured during those long climbs also will “provide insights into high altitude turbulence and radiation effects on pilots and aircraft,” the team noted.

Perlan also welcomes armchair pilots to fly along on missions through an online virtual cockpit that streams data and images live during flights.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Glider

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