Perlan 2 is back in the air! It was a beautiful flight with an excellent shake-down performance.
A critical upgrade for 2018 was to build a new front hatch. The original clearly worked to 54,000 feet, thanks to Keith Kongslie's work in 2016. But it was not a perfect match between hatch and fuselage. Jim and Greg decided perfection was the goal. And on May 4 (Star Wars Day - May the fourth ...be with you) perfection was accomplished. Greg Scates and Mike Malis have worked on the front hatch project for months. Both are retired from Lockheed Martin and have decades of composite experience between them.
During the off season 2017-2018 Perlan 2 has had several upgrades. More battery power was desired. New insulated battery boxes meant the old telemery and science wiring needed to be moved. Since Perlan 2 is the most sophisticated glider ever built this was a monumental task for Morgan and Stewart.
We also took the opportunity to install Inertial Measuring Unit (IMU) from our sponsor VectorNav. Greg made the carbon fiber deck and Miguel and Jim secured the IMU (small red square about the size of a quarter) in the rear cockpit. Pat Arnott from UNR brought 2 students on a Saturday to install a new UVA/B sensor and extremely sensitive temperature probe. Morgan described the process in detail below:
On April 28, 2018 three Perlan team members went to the Southern Aero Medical Institute to test the Perlan re-breather system and emergency bailout bottle. Dr Paul Buza met Miguel Iturmendi test pilot, Tim Gardner safety pilot, and Alec Guay observer at SAMI. The state of the art hyperbaric chamber allowed safe testing of Perlan’s emergency equipment. The test was a huge success.
Perlan Project team members were integral in the success of Minden Wave Camp '18. There were over 60 pilot wave campers plus family and of course SoaringNV staff to tow, instruct and support. Tim Gardner organized the guest speakers and instructed in unusual attitude recovery.
During the off season in 2017-18 we wanted to do several upgrades to the Perlan 2. Most of these would either require back-breaking contorsions to get inside the cockpit and work on the ceiling or........invert the glider. So Perlan 2 hangar acrobatics was invented.
On April 3, 2018 the Perlan team again gathered in Washington DC to present to the Collier Selection Committee. Unfortunately Ed Warnock had to teach university classes so the team was comprised of Miguel Iturmendi, Jim Payne, Einar Enevoldson and Tim Gardner. The guys were practiced, polished and ably assisted by Jamie Darcy and Kristina Messner.
For a fun 360 spherical video that can look all around the Patagonia sky, go to Perlan Project's March 29, 2018 Facebook post linked below. Timelapse was used to conserve memory, so it is a bit quick to watch.