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.
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.)