When you claim a world altitude record, you must be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you truly achieved your claimed altitude. Part of the rules require a pre- AND a post-flight calibration of your instruments. The Soaring Society of America contributed two LX-9000s to the Perlan Project to anchor the front and rear instrument panels. Stanford University's Space Rendezvous Lab has the ability to calibrate those High Altitude Flight Recorders (HAFRs). Dr Simone D'Amico has been very supportive of Perlan Project with three years of calibration. His team is receiving the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Group Diploma of Honour at National Aeronautic Association (NAA) in Washington, DC later this month due to that generous support.
On November 2 after 12,700 miles over 45 days of travel the Perlan 2 arrived back home in Minden, Nevada. Each journey is unique in its logistical challenges. Sometimes the obstacles are paperwork, or insurance, or connections, or a blizzard closing Andes mountain roads, or a port slow-down, or a winter storm closing a port. We've overcome all of these situations before. This trip had its share with a hurricane near Mexico which impacted our shipping schedule. But when our container arrived as the sun crested the Minden mountains, Jim quickly determined that all looked ok inside the container at first opening.
The Society of Flight Test Engineers SFTE just celebrated its 50th birthday. At their October annual symposium in Savannah, Georgia the Perlan Team was highly honored with the Flight Test Team of the Year Award. Miguel wrote:
Al Lawless and Miguel Iturmendi received in Savannah, GA the James S. McDonnell Award "Best Flight Test Team" for 2018. Miguel accepted the Team award plaque and individual team member glass awards representing the Team. Miguel thanked the Society of Flight Test Engineers for selecting the Airbus Perlan Project for this prestigious award. Then Al Lawless gave a small inspirational presentation on how this team works together to achieve what was considered impossible.
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) has honored one of its own as Test Pilot of the Year with the Iven Kincheloe Award since 1958. This year Airbus Perlan Mission II Chief Pilot Jim Payne was selected for his flight testing of Perlan 2.
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.
After two envelope expansioin flights it was time to pack up Perlan 2 and our equipment to ship north. With inclement weather expected, the team took the final nice weather day for personal use. The boat trip excursion to the glaciers was popular, as was skiing in Ushuaia, or a day trip to El Chalten and Mt FitzRoy. Then the big push to pack up while it drizzled rain.
On September 12, 2018 the weather supported stratospheric wave in Patagonia Argentina. Clouds were expected in the afternoon so a 10 o'clock launch was selected. This would be another envelope expansion flight, faster not higher. On this same day we had invited many dignitaries to a presentation and unveiling of a commemorative plaque in the main airport terminal. (Blog on that to follow.) So there were representatives from Air Force, Navy, EANA, ANAC, Hyperbaric Chamber, the mayor, and all aeropuerto jefes at the airport.
For Flight #53 the objective was envelope expansion and a functional check flight of some recent upgrades performed by the Perlan Team. The goal was to fly faster, not higher, to clear more flutter excitation modeling to the right. (More details below.) Our weather man Walt Rogers was joined by Matthew Scutter, founder of SkySight, to analyze the potential clouds and any possible stratospheric wave. Lots of clouds and very little chance of lift was the verdict. Perfect for our purposes.