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.
After a strong effort by the Airbus Perlan Mission II team on the morning of August 19, 2017 we were ready to tow out Perlan 2. (See separate blog about PreFlight.) We had been inspired by the possible forecast from 48 hours previous for what might be possible. Unfortunately as the day got nearer the new forecast reduced our hopes. Back on Thursday the lift band through the sky in the cross section forecast was the best we had seen with a red (lift) path from low to high altitudes. (First photo) But on the actual flight day the lower level lift was not as strong as desired and the mid level was almost non-existant (Second photo). The high level wave was still looking strong.
This blog is dedicated to the entire support team for Perlan Project in El Calafate. On August 19 we knew there was a short window of opportunity to fly between two fronts. But when we arrived at the hangar there was ice pushed up against the 4 piece rolling hangar doors. And pushing the main wheel of Perlan 2 through snow with the low fairing and antennas was not happening. The balloon team released a weather balloon and Morgan updated some wing tip software. It was Alec's last day so he continued to train others as his replacement. Alec left big shoes to fill.
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.