On September 3, 2017 Airbus Perlan Mission II became a testament to what a volunteer team can accomplish. Perlan 2 flown by Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock clawed their way to 52,172 feet GPS altitude with tenacious flying and strong support from the ground crew. The forecast was for soft wave below 18,000 feet then slightly better wave with another difficult transition at 34,000 feet - if you could get there. Doesn't sound much like a world record forecast, huh?
On August 23 and August 31 regional ANAC and EANA personnel respectively visited the Airbus Perlan Mission II team. ANAC is like FAA Aircraft and Pilot Certification in America. EANA is like Air Traffic Control in the USA. The presentation for ANAC was made by Jim and Miguel. Our guests were able to get any questions answered and see the Perlan 2 for themselves. Airbus folks were in the hangar on that day. Jim, Tago and I were amazed that we had met Director Altamirano some years before at Perito Moreno (town) airport. And we always make photos with the unique glider (ANAC Photos 1-6)
August 29: Eleven years ago in El Calafate Einar Enevoldsen and Steve Fossett flew to the soaring world altitude record of 15,460 meters. Tago was a member of that first team and is with us in El Calafate. He shared his photos from that amazing day. We celebrate their fabulous effort and accomplishment. The genesis of Perlan 2 was born on their way down from the record height. Salud!
On August 29, 2017, the eleventh anniversary of Einar and Steve's record flight, Airbus Perlan Mission II hosted an educational outreach presentation in El Calafate. Miguel Iturmendi was the lead for setting this up with 200 local students. It took him weeks to find a way through layers of challenges, but Miguel and Bismar Rossi made it happen. Bismar also helped last year to set classroom visits and hangar tours. Those were not possible this year.
On August 25, 2017 Airbus Perlan Mission II team took a well earned sleep-in, but still went to hangar at 10 am for some planned work. With several days of very light winds forecast we had time available for some maintence. The front eyeball dual pane windows were getting some fog between the panes so Ed did the dry air purging. This is periodic maintence as the hangar is on the shore of the largest lake in Argentina. A tiny fitting was tapped and screwed into the purge hole to assist future purges.
Weather forecasting is as much art as science, especially in Patagonia. Airbus Perlan Mission II has the best forecasts and satellite photos available this year. Last year the GOES 13 satellite photos for southern Patagonia were only published three times per day. This year the GOES 16 satellite photos are every 15 minutes which is a huge improvement; usually not quite an hour old when we can see them on-line. We are launching our Perlan weather balloon to confirm any forecast soundings and create our own SkewT charts.
On August 24, 2017 there was not a strong indication of wave. But if you look at the multi-day outlook it was the best we would see for the next 5 days. The Perlan team is great, we are all wanting to do our part to make it happen if at all possible. So we decided to fly and explore.