The most important upgrade for Perlan 2 in the off-season is new custom fit hatches made by Greg Scates. He created a collar of fiberglass which will be the basis for tooling for the new hatches. The old hatches were made from splashing from the test fuselage, not the flight fuselage. The original hatches clearly worked to 54,000 feet but were not perfect. Jim and Greg want perfect.
The collar shows lighted around the hatch opening. On the inside the mating between the actual flight fuselage and new hatch will be perfect. Mike Malis in blue tee shirt, Greg Scates in red tee shirt and Jim Payne in grey sweatshirt all have their heads inside the inverted fuselage for final prep before laying down strips of carbon fiber cloth. Jim barely fits inside the science bay opening. Scott Wiley was also working on Perlan improvements, but not in photo. Mike was sitting on the shop stool with a hydraulic jack to adjust the needed height to make prep work in the front cockpit a bit easier on his body.
Greg donned an old plaid shirt that could get resin on it. Greg chose to stand inside the opening to make it easier to rotate around. Greg, with Mike assisting, layed up a few strips of black carbon cloth, scissor cut the rough edges, patted down, then finally brushed with resin. Mike kept mixing the resin in small batches and giving to Greg as needed. This process resulted in a perfect matching tool to make the new hatches from. To assist removing from the fuselage Greg made a curved cross piece bar to maintain the correct curvature. More info in a future blog as progress is made. Perlan Soars! Jackie