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Fri, Aug 25, 2023

Airbus’ Perlan 2 Takes Flight Over Patagonia

High-Altitude Test Flight Helps Find Room for Improvement

The Perlan Project’s Perlan 2 spaceglider took flight on August 23rd, looking to take a jaunt over the Andes mountains of Peru to celebrate “National Ride the Wind Day”, lofting themselves into an attempt at a world record of 90,000 feet in a crewed glider.

Those interested in the Perlan Project got to track the live telemetry of the project, watching as the Perlan 2 was towed up to its initial altitude before lifting up and away off the bountiful, fierce mountain waves over the Andes. After 2.5 hours of flight, the Perlan 2 was making a good vertical speed of 8 knots at a pressure altitude of 45,500 feet. By the end, the Perlan 2 was able to reach a max altitude just north of 60,300 feet, taking the better part of 5 hours to hit their max altitude. 

The attempt follows a flight over Patagonia earlier this month, testing out the aircraft’s high and cold performance up to 60,000 feet. Unfortunately, the forecasts were correct, limiting the Perlan 2’s performance with an absence of lifting conditions. The Perlan’s best achieved lift was “only 3 knots, for only a few minutes” according to the team. On the upside, they managed to make the best of things and revise procedures and evaluate modifications. New instruments needed updating, a rebreather required some leak detection, and the crew enjoyed an emergency comms drill. The team managed to keep the chase helo in the air long enough to make the best of the “golden hour” for some beautiful in-flight photography of the experimental glider, marking off the 2nd somewhat-successful mission for the Perlan crew.


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