El Calafate, Argentina, August 2, 2017 – Airbus Perlan Mission II, an initiative to fly a glider without an engine to the edge of space to collect ground-breaking insights on climate change, weather and high-altitude flight, this week reached a new high altitude in its second season of flight testing in El Calafate, Argentina. Pilots Jim Payne, Morgan Sandercock, Tim Gardner and Miguel Iturmendi have soared the pressurized Perlan 2 glider in a series of flights reaching a maximum altitude to date of 32,500 feet.
El Calafate, in the Patagonian region of Argentina, is in one of a few places on earth where a combination of mountain winds and the polar vortex create the world’s highest “stratospheric mountain waves” – rising air currents that Perlan pilots believe can eventually carry their experimental aircraft to the edge of space.
Over the next two months, the all-volunteer exploration team sponsored by Airbus will seek for the rare waves in an attempt to break the world gliding altitude record of 50,727 feet, set by Einar Enevoldsen and Steve Fossett in Perlan 1 in 2006. Along the way, the aircraft will continue to collect scientific data on the atmosphere made possible by the Perlan 2 aircraft’s unique attributes.