Airbus Perlan Mission II is ready for 2019! On May 28-29, 2019 after extensive software and equipment upgrades, Perlan 2 took to the skies over Minden. Jim Payne, Tim Gardner, and Morgan Sandercock were the pilots and Dana Pierson was the new tow pilot behind a SoaringNV Pawnee. (Silvio is on vacation.) After the first flight Chief Pilot Jim Payne said "Perlan's upgrades work! Great to be flying again." Co-pilot Tim Gardner agreed, " All the hard work has paid off. Unconditional success!" And Jackie Payne, Chief of Logistics concurred, "Morgan Sandercock has seriously upgraded telemetry and added IMU data to the mix. Fabulous accomplishment!"
The Perlan team has been working tirelessly on sophisticated upgrades behind the scenes. It is extremely impressive to have such an extensive software upgrade to work the very first time it was flown on Perlan 2. Maestro Morgan is Magic. Greg Scates fabricated a new support on the very top of the tail for a 5 hole air flow probe. Andrew Angelloti brought his final probe to Minden. Miguel Iturmendi came to work in the hangar.
Morgan incorporated the new probe with the VectorNav Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) data into our own telemetry screens. There are also sensors on the stick and control surfaces to report exact positions. Morgan has little graphs (strip charts) available real time in the cockpit to monitor trends and current conditions. Jim said, "I didn't have it this good when flight testing the F-16. I'm ecstatic!" In a future blog we will share more details on these upgrades so stay tuned.
The first and second flights went off without a hitch. The regular Minden ground crew: Stewart Tattersall, Sandra Sandercock, and Jackie Payne were joined by Ines Weber from Germany and Doug Perrenod. Gabe Bourbeau inspected and signed off the glider. Last year we had camera wifi transmission interference. Two video cameras being crammed into the small tail tip didn't work out. So Jim asked Greg to build a secure camera shelf in front of the main wheel inside that huge fiberglass fairing. The Sony transmits to the front cockpit primarily for tow plane visibility. The Garmin VIRB 360 is still in the tail tip transmitting to the rear cockpit primarily to view the sky conditions all around. This system looks very promising, but needs a bit more tweaking. There is another Sony in the tail that records, but does not transmit during flight. You might see a bit of the probe above the tail cameras, but it is not obtrusive.
For a quick 1:17 minute video see https://youtu.be/9sE-rUf1i70
To our fans: the Perlan website had a problem with adding new content (blogs) in the past few months. We think we have that fixed, just in time to fly in Minden. We kept all Perlan news updated on our Perlan Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during that time. Thanks Suzanne! Thanks to all who contributed photos for this blog. There will be lots of "catch up" blogs in the coming weeks. Perlan Soars! Jackie