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.
Every non-wave season we try to get some upgrades done on the Perlan 2. From December 2017-February 2018 Greg Scates has led a volunteer crew in Rosamond and achieved some spectacular changes. Mike Malis, Alec Guay, Scott Wiley and David Leingang have all spent many hours and days supporting these Rosamond-based upgrades. Morgan Sandercock dropped in one day to add his engineering help. And Jim Payne connected people, organized tasks, all round go-fer, and kept the entire team updated on progress.
The tail camera footage from Perlan 2 can be spectacular. I scoured the 5 hour flight from 9/9/17 for the most glorious shots. It was very difficult to narrow it to only 4 minutes! The music I selected was "Higher" by Silent Partner. How cool is that? Tim Davis put it together for us. The glacier Perito Moreno is visible below the Perlan 2 in several early sections and the third photo of this blog. If you look closely you can see where a chunk of ice (calf) has fallen off the 200 foot wall of the glacier. The stacked lenticular clouds in photo four topped out at 35,000 feet.
On February 5, 2018 the National Aeronautic Association annouced the illustrious list of nominees for the greatest aviation achievement in America in 2017. Perlan Project was proud to be included in this prestigeous group. This is the Oscar of Aviation, there is no higher honor. Jack Pelton, Chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aviation Association and a NAA Distinguished Statesman in Aviation nominated Perlan Project based on it's accomplishments in 2017.
“For more than a century, the Collier Trophy has recognized the ‘greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America,’ Greg Principato, President and CEO of NAA stated. “This year’s outstanding group of nominees represent the great depth and breadth of our aviation industry. Each is changing our world for the better. The Collier Selection Committee will have its work cut out for it this year and we at NAA couldn’t be more excited." For a recap of all 2017 nominees see https://aerospaceamerica.aiaa.org/collier-trophy-nominees-announced/
Today we have a guest blogger Alec Guay our intern for past 2 years. Alec (aka Grasshopper) has helped immeasurably in Argentina for two campaigns. Now he is helping with the improved CubeSat rack and other Payload Bay improvements in Rosamond under the watchful eye of composites guru Greg Scates. To avoid confusion in Alec's photos, it is the Perlan 2 glider which is upside down in the background of some photos! And Alec got the donation of carbon fiber from Tom Haulik of Hexcel all by himself. Alec writes:
Hi Perlan Blog Readers! A mid project update on the composite science rack I am fabricating as part of my Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project.
One of the more challenging aspects of every wave flight of Perlan 2 is the tow. On the September 9, 2017 wave day the air that the CNVVM tow plane and Perlan 2 flew through was dynamic. It could be compared to a moderate roller coaster ride. The video linked below shows a 4 minute composite of that hour long tow.
The one-of-a-kind pressurized glider Perlan 2 is assembled similar to a normal large two-place glider. We pull out the fuselage and each wing from the special built Cobra trailer. We have created our own heavy-duty rigging aids like metal rolling saw horses modified by Greg Scates, a wing-rigger with air jack for fine tuned adjustments made by Tom Stowers, and a tail dolly made by Silvio Ricardi. The photos and video are in the Aero Club Lago Argentino hangar at the El Calafate airport.
On January 6, 2018 Perlan Project hosted title sponsor Airbus for the quarterly review meeting. Since the Perlan 2 glider was in Rosamond for upgrades requiring carbon fiber parts, we held the meeting at nearby Hilton Garden Inn in Palmdale, CA. After the meeting we reconvened in Greg Scates' hangar for some "inverted show and tell."