The Perlan fuselage test article is currently sitting outdoors, awaiting its next torture test. While it waits, it is watching the lenticular clouds forming overhead…
The destructive pressure test has been completed and we hit our engineering numbers almost perfectly.
This test was testing for the worst possible conditions expected in flight. 2000 pounds of lead were loaded onto the seats to simulate the weight of the pilots multiplied by 6 Gs of acceleration. Then the pressure was increased to the maximum expected in flight: the fuselage held the strain. Then the pressure was increased to the safety blowoff-valve pressure: it still held.
The first pressure testing has begun on the fuselage test article. This test was just checking that the hatch seals work and there are no leaks. Now that we have done this test, the whole test rig will be moved into the safety cell. In the next few tests, big chunks might fly off so we need to have them contained. The perfect container to contain the debris is a shipping container.
Some more parts have arrived – the photo above is the main wheel complete with its hydraulic disc brake.
The Windward Performance worskhop in Bend, Oregon is currently working on the fuselage that will be used for destructive testing. This is the one that has to have all of the structural details of the final aeroplane but it will be over-pressurised until is bursts. Adding those structural details is taking longer than we thought; it’s not just a simple test. We have to have the whole thing finished and nearly ready to fly before we destroy it.
Argentina seems to have a lot of speed bumps. They have all kinds. Big ones, sharp ones, little ones, bolt-ons and more. Each time we have driven over one, Tago has said that Esquel has the worst speed bump. The “Stevebump.”“Oh no, that’s not a big bump. You should see this one in Esquel. It nearly killed Steve.”
We are gathering lots of information for future Perlan expeditions. We have taken a few side trips to inspect different airfields that we might use in the future.
El Maiten (Photo #2) looks like it might be a useful place to outland. The runway surface is very soft, so we couldn’t launch the Perlan 2 glider from here.
The Perlan Project 2011 expedition to Argentina has already had some great results in the Andes Wave. On a non-wave day, we have some time to shoot a few videos. Check out this video of the DG1001m self-launcher. Watch the video on YouTube here.
This past week, I am spending time with Tago. Tago was employed by Steve Fossett almost from the first record attempt. He originally got invloved with the balloon circumnavigation because Tago’s home town (Mendoza) was selected by Steve as the perfect launch point for a round-the-world attempt. [This one was the one where Steve ended up in the ocean near Australia.]