The Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) annual conference in Anaheim (Disneyland) was well attended this year. There was an after hours buffet dinner inside the park for SETP guests on Thursday evening, yet at 8 am Friday morning there was standing room only for the Perlan Project presentation.
Perlan Project Chief Pilot Jim Payne and Test Pilot/ FTE Miguel Iturmendi wowed the crowd with their detailed presentation about Perlan - the project, the vehicle, the mission, the test results. There were short videos about multiple facets of the project, but the highlight sizzle reel about what a flight regimen looks like on the day Perlan 2 soared higher than a U-2 had the crowd awed. And this was a no-nonsense crowd. Jamie Darcy pulled together the most powerful 90 seconds of what a flight day looks like - opening the hangar, out on the ramp, inserting the hatches, take off, tow release just above a con trail from the Egrett, CapComm, climb above 76,000 feet, landing, celebratory egress, and handshake of the two pilots. That video set the tone of excellence for the entire presentation. Link https://youtu.be/ReyMOQkBq3Y
Questions afterward included: how close is it to a Martian atmosphere, what decompression mitigations are in place, do you need a yaw dampener, and what gives the best data - flutter exciters or stick raps? I told several other curious SETP attendees how exciting it was to be part of a team dedicated to an end result that few test pilots thought possible before this year. I heard several times, "Well, until you crossed 60,000 feet I wasn't sure. Then you soared above 76,000 feet inside of a week....What will you do next year?" Jim and Miguel were proudly displaying their Soaring Society of America Symons Memorial triple lennie pins on the lapels of their jackets.
Stay tuned as the saga of Perlan Project unfolds. Perlan Soars High! Jackie