After flying 4.6 hours on August 15, 2017 the Airbus Perlan Mission II team celebrated the new high mark of 33,200 feet or 10,000 meters! The first photo is from 30,000 feet looking east over Lago Argentina. The second photo is from 33,000 feet looking west towards the Andes. The third photo is to give you a sense of the immense height of 33,000 feet from the video. The white tongue just below left wing on left edge of second photo is the wall of Perito Moreno Glacier.
Tim Gardner was able to take some goregous photos while flying above Patagonia.
First - Lago Argentino on tow 7400 feet
Second - Lake from 15,600 feet
Third - Above Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers 28,000 feet
Fourth - Looking at Andes from 33,000 feet
Fifth - Looking North from 33,000 feet
Sixth - Foehn Gap Tim says "Wave trigger to the left. Lenny to the right."
On August 15, 2017 Airbus Perlan Mission II team gathered in the hangar for an early launch. The weather balloon team of Loris, Sandra, Stewart, Martin, Alec and Michael had collected wind, temperature, and altitude data to use to fine tune the forecast. Those hardy souls start their duties an hour ( or two) before everyone else. Since the sun was just up and the wind was blowing, it was cold out on the ramp and runway. Linda, Tago, Stewart, Alec, Loris, and Jackie were ground ops. Martin took photograghs and worked with the tail camera footage. Miguel helped with aviation translations. Sandra applied for credentials for newly arriving team members. The lower air mass was very dynamic. The Perlan 2 lost 2,000 feet on tow in the sink just before reaching the primary wave. As soon as Jim Payne and Tim Gardner got off at 10,000 feet they had 1500 feet per minute of lift. Unfortunately that quickly died back to 400 feet per minute above 14,000 feet. See the flight trace at
August 12, 2017 was our first balloon launch from Punta Bandera which is on the west end of the lake exactly 32 air miles upwind of El Calafate airport. Airbus Perlan Mission II just got permission to launch a weather balloon from Punta Bandera. It's a bit complicated with the B team (Balloon) driving to the west 50 km and the C team (Communication and Computers) driving to the east 20 km. But the procedure of launching at daybreak is still working. By the time the balloon floated over El Calafate town it was at 30,000 feet.
The rest of the day was devoted to rest and relaxation. Almost the entire team took off for the first time in a month. (The rest of the blog is about an awesome Patagonia Glacier and Iceberg cruise.)
While the weather does not support wave, Airbus Perlan Mission II team is using the opportunity to install some upgrades. We took the wings off to get better access to the interior of the fuselage. Morgan wanted more heat and insulation on our flutter exciters or shakers. The first wing tip photo shows the wires for telemetry. The next photo shows Alec and Loris adding heat and insulation features. This flutter excitation is Morgan Sandercock's design and build. The small display monitor is visible in-flight inside the cockpit and downloadable to our ground based telemetry office. There's a brief video of it shaking the wing tip spar with the graph of the vibrations being built and displayed on the small monitor. https://youtu.be/O9F6nVdvfX4
Yesterday we had such dense fog that the noon time Aerolineas flight diverted from El Calafate. This morning we had hard ice on the car windshields. We got a dust of snow on the ridge to the south but heavier snow on higher hills to north. More water in the "dry" lake meant more flamingoes this morning. They obviously are not restricted to tropical climates!
One of our biggest challenges with Airbus Perlan Mission II in El Calafate is the limited bandwidth for Internet connections. The AeroClub Lago Argentino helpfully expanded the Internet capacity in the hangar. But 15 team members plus multiple computers for telemetry, tracking, weather, and communication means a high useage load! Videos were just not possible. Airbus wanted to share some of our breathtakingly beautiful in-flight videos with the world. A 4 minute clip was literally taking hours to upload -- as long as there were no hiccups to slow it down even further. Thanks to Airbus we now have a satellite receiver at the hangar for that very thing.
On August 5, 2017 we said farewell to Dr Elizabeth Tattersall aka "the Balloon Doc" as she had to return to teach college classes. ET lead the balloon crew through initial training and early morning launches for a month. She will be missed. We celebrated one month in Argentina with a team dinner. Some of the team continued the celebration with Salsa dancing. Who knew the tower chief Hector could also work the party crowd and dance?