We had a chance for weak wave on Septermber 18. Team Perlan wanted to test some of Morgan's extensive software updates for flutter testing, Life Support Systems Display (LSSD), and telemetry. We also wanted a larger beta testing of the Virtual Cockpit software by Loris Gliner which is based on our telemetry data. Jamie had the new HeliUshuaia helicopter ready for a photo chase mission. Due to the complexity, dual languages, dual radio frequencies and focus on safety we briefed the day before AND the morning of the flight with Jim's Powerpoint slides.
Jim and Miguel loaded into the cockpit in front of the hangar. After pressurtizing, the truck towed the Perlan 2 out, waiting behind the midfield hold-short line of the runway. As soon as the Airbus A-320 took off (fab photo from Martin), we got pemission to truck-tow down the runway to the start up area. The tow plane was behind the glider. The helicopter lifted off after the glider was almost to the startup area, and hovered well off edge of runway, above and behind. The ground crew never felt any downwash - just as we planned. It was a smooth, well-orchestrated launch of 3 aircraft. Our thanks to El Calafate Torre for allowing this historic photo work to be done.
Of course we all wanted to see Jamie Darcy's fabulous pictures from the photo chase helicopter. They are breathtaking! To actually get the glider just above the glacier was an amazing professional shot. The lake makes the perfect contrasting background. I have included personal ground level photos of same geographical region of the wall of Perito Moreno Glacier into Lago Argentino, so you can appreciate the "wow!" factor. (That wall is over 200 feet high and moves 7 feet per day.) The rule for overfly of the national park is 12,000 feet above, which we followed.
The winds reversed gradient at 13,000 feet which capped the wave about 15,000 feet. High point for this flight was 15,300 feet. The winds increased again above 18,000-20,000 feet causing high lenticulars but they just didn't connect to the weak wave below. (again) After 2 hours of working from 13,000 to 15,000 Jim called RTB (return to base). The helicopter had landed to refuel, but met Perlan 2 near town to video more airwork and the landing.
There were smiles all around once this test/photo mission was done. Morgan's in flight telemetry download was cleanest ever. Jamie was showing those goregous photos to the pilots on the ramp. Roberto Valdes, the helicopter pilot, came over for a pilot photo op. Airbus Group's support has been world class all the way. Perlan Se Eleva! Jackie
Following is a link to Martin Heltai's photos. Use with attribution.
Heltai 2016/09/18 Perlan 2 above Glacier
Heltai 2016/09/18 Perlan 2 above Glacier Post Flight