On August 28, 2019 Perlan 2 took to the skies over the Andes looking for Patagonia wave. This flight took extraordinary effort on the part of Airbus Perlan Mission II team. But we "got 'er done"!
During the preflight procedures, not one but two potentially flight cancelling leaks were discovered. The first leak was under the rear instrument panel and required Loris Gliner (black socks) to go inverted into the rear cockpit. Next the front rudder pedals were not holding position. So this required Mike Malis (white socks) to go inverted into the front cockpit. In the late afternoon prior to the flight morning, the second leak was discovered at the aft pressure bulkhead under the wing spar. Morgan Sandercock, Alan Murray, and Tim Gardner devised a way to fix without taking off the wings. Morgan created a long articulating tool which could reach from the open science bay to the rear of the pressure bulkhead. The end piece was a crows foot (wrench piece). He used the tiny video camera on our borescope to guide his efforts to tighten a fitting. Amazing creativity and effort! The preflight could continue!!
In the morning, rebreather and comms checks were all nominal (normal). At the pre-flight briefing all info was covered for the team and our two Airbus representatives - Bettina Nerb, Manager of Sponsorships and Conferences from Germany and Tim Gann, Head of Strategy and Corporate Development from Herndon, VA.
Take off conditions were blustery, cold winds but thankfully right down the runway 25. The Egrett tow plane had the Perlan 2 at 2,000 feet (Above Ground Level) in two minutes. As last year, the Egrett started making a contrail around 25,000 feet. The wave action was weak at 40,000 and still weak at 45,000 feet. But after searching the entire forecast area on tow for usable lift nothing good could be found. Jim and Tim searched more of the best area and found maybe 1 knot (100 feet per minute) of lift. At 45,000 feet our base lift needed is 4 knots; that only allows Perlan 2 to hover. We need more lift to climb. All our best weather team diligently scourred the forecasts for the best areas of lift. Stormi Noll was working the IDV (Integrated Data Viewer) like a whiz. Loris and Dan Gudgel were also analyzing SkySight and WeatherExtreme models. When 2 models agreed we sent Perlan 2 to that potential spot to check it real time. After 3 hours of searching, Perlan 2 decided to head home. There were a few test points accomplished, all with good results. Landing was in even stronger gusty winds. There were happy pilots to get hot chocolate and hot tea upon landing. See a 2:15 minute flight video below or at https://youtu.be/ezA9skfPeBQ
The team really pulled together to make this flight happen. We have a forecast of better wave tomorrow so there will be an early show at the hangar on the US Labor Day Saturday. Join us on Virtual Cockpit if we ride into the stratosphere. If you want personal notification there are a few ways we have to let you know. If your email is on our Flight Alert list we send notice just before flight. (When you first sign up, it may take a day or two for your email to be added to the list) If you follow @PerlanProject on Twitter then you get our notification. If you text the word Perlan to 57682 from a US phone, then you get a text notice that we are about to fly. We will have our Virtual Cockpit active during flights. It has a moving map (metric or standard) altitude, airspeed and lots more information. Stay tuned for upcoming flights in the very near future! Jackie