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Fri, Aug 31, 2018

Perlan II Sets Third World Record, Second In One Week

Flies To A Pressure Altitude of 65,605 Feet

The experimental glider team Airbus Perlan Mission II on Wednesday set its third world record, the second one this week.

Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock set new world record last Sept. 3 at over 52,000 feet. This past Sunday, the flew to a world altitude record reaching over 62,000 feet.

On Wednesday, Jim and pilot Miguel Iturmendi soared even higher – to 65,605 feet in pressure altitude.

The pressurized Perlan 2 glider, which is designed to soar up to 90,000 feet, passed the Armstrong Line, the point in the atmosphere above which an unprotected human’s blood will boil if an aircraft loses pressurization.

To soar into the highest areas of Earth’s atmosphere, Perlan 2 pilots catch a ride on stratospheric mountain waves, a weather phenomenon created when rising air currents behind mountain ranges are significantly strengthened by the polar vortex. The phenomenon occurs only for a brief period each year in just a few places on earth. Nestled within the Andes Mountains in Argentina, the area around El Calafate is one of those rare locations where these rising air currents can reach to 100,000 feet or more.              

Built in Oregon and home-based in Minden, Nevada, the Perlan 2 glider incorporates a number of unique innovations to enable its ambitious mission:

A carbon-fiber capsule with a unique high-efficiency, passive cabin pressurization system that eliminates the need for heavy, power-hungry compressors.
A unique closed-loop rebreather system, in which the only oxygen used is what the crew metabolizes. It is the lightest and most efficient system for a sealed cabin, and its design has applications for other high-altitude aircraft.
An onboard “wave visualization system” that graphically displays areas of rising and sinking air in cockpits. For commercial flights, following lines of rising air would allow faster climbs and save fuel, while also helping aircraft avoid dangerous phenomena such as wind shear and severe downdrafts.

The Perlan 2 will continue to pursue higher altitude flights and conduct research in the stratosphere as weather and winds permit through the middle of September.

(Source: Perlan II news release. Image from file)

FMI: www.perlanproject.org

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