July 31, 2017 was Tago's birthday, and all he wanted was a world record as a present. Was not to be. Jim knew that the weather would likely support weak wave and our early morning weather balloon launch indicated a weakening at 29,000 feet. But we needed the practice and the altitude check for our upgraded flutter telemetry. Cold soaking equipment also needed testing.
If I miss a day with a new blog so much seems to happen! But with 15 quality folks in El Calafate driven to make Airbus Perlan Mission II a success, that's not really a surprise! While the western US has record heat waves, we are waking up to snow and ice with -6 C temps in El Calafate. We covered the Perlan 2 with the CloudDancer covers inside the hangar when forecast winds were for gusts of 65 kts. That didn't actually happen, but in the past year 3 of the the upper windows of the hangar have blown out.
When we think there's wave we will always try to fly Perlan 2. However it is winter, and we are not that far from Antartica. Jim spotted an iceberg in the lake near the airport when we first arrived. On July 25, 2017 Airbus Perlan Mission II had lots of surface wind in El Calafate, but from the north. That made poorly organized wave and a strong crosswind. There were actually strong wind warnings for most of Patagonia. The team stayed in the hangar working, while hoping that the winds would swing more westerly. Didn't happen.
Perlan2's first wave flight over Patagonia was July 24, 2017. Tim Gardner was able to capture the unparalleled beauty of the lakes, mountains, and clouds of Patagonia. The first photo shows the town of El Calafate in bottom right. Tim uses a full tint visor which Alec photoed just before pressurization testing on the ramp. No possibility to open the vent and put the camera outside as can be done with a non-pressurized glider!
On Monday July 24, 2017 the Airbus Perlan Mission II team went all out to make a wave flight happen. The balloon team launched early and their data confirmed it was marginal for wave. We like winds from the west but there was a significant band of wind from the north at mid levels. So any wave would be capped low, yet the surface winds were very brisk.
Saturday July 22, 2017 Who flew today? If you guessed Jim, Tim or Morgan you would be wrong. And Miguel is due next week. So who flew?
On July 18, 2017 Airbus Perlan Mission II took to the skies over Patagonia. Jim Payne and Tim Gardner in Perlan 2 made a short check flight with no expectation to try for altitude. There are so many integral components to a successful high altutude wave flight. All must be tested prior to the big day. All personnel must be ready, weather balloon launched early, glider serviced with full battery, oxygen, and air, the tow plane functioning, telemetry set up, weather analyzed, coordination with the tower briefed, cockpits loaded, camera displays on, look at the skies, pressurization checks 100 percent, and finally radio comms with tower maintained prior to tow out.