On May 16, 2018 the National Aeronautic Association awarded Perlan Project the Most Memorable Soaring Record from 2017. This recognized the high altitude flight flown by Chief Pilot Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock to 52,221 feet on September 3 from El Calafate Argentina. Accepting the award for the Perlan Project, Jim said it was really for all the team. "We did not do it alone." Jim noted that this was a long-held dream of Einar Enevoldson and Steve Fossett from 2006.
Joining Jim and Jackie were Jamie Darcy from Airbus and Kristina Messner of Focused Image. They have been supporters of Perlan Project since the first flight of Perlan 2 in 2015. Greg Principato, President and CEO of NAA welcomed the record setting pilots and Art Greenfield Director of Contests and Records introduced each one. Art noted that this is the 8th time a record flight of Jim's has been selected as a Most Memorable Record. Rod Skaar Chairman of NAA's Contest & Record Board handed out the plaques. Brian Utley who had just been inducted into the US Soaring Hall of Fame two weeks ago was also on hand to celebrate Perlan's success.
The ceremony was hosted at Lockheed Martin's Jet Demonstration Center in Arlingtion, Virginia. So the unique and much enjoyed entertainment was flying the F-22 and F-35 simulators. Kristina and Jamie did rather well flying their birds. It might have helped a teeny bit to have Jim on their left side mentoring as they flew. One of the other award recipients mentioned Jim being his instructor at Test Pilot School.
Last year when we flew the simulators, Jackie proved that wine and flying jets were not a good mix. Not only did I crash multiple times, I ran out of bullets. As Jim climbed into the simulator last year he was asked if he had any aviation experience. He responded, "Some, but not recent." He proceded to show that being a Top Gun stayed with you even after retiring from the Air Force. This year as soon as he got near a simulator, he was greeted as a comarade in arms. "You're the one..."
It was so much fun to visit with friends and other honorees. Even in pouring rain with infamous snarled Washington DC traffic, it was a fabulous evening for everyone. Thanks NAA for promoting all the facets of aviation sports!
There is a 1 minute video at https://www.facebook.com/PerlanProject/videos/vb.119176758094351/2174791...
Perlan Soars High! Jackie