Exciting Upgrades for Perlan 2

Feb 12, 2018 | Blog

Every non-wave season we try to get some upgrades done on the Perlan 2. From December 2017-February 2018 Greg Scates has led a volunteer crew in Rosamond and achieved some spectacular changes. Mike Malis, Alec Guay, Scott Wiley and David Leingang have all spent many hours and days supporting these Rosamond-based upgrades. Morgan Sandercock dropped in one day to add his engineering help. And Jim Payne connected people, organized tasks, all round go-fer, and kept the entire team updated on progress.

We are happy to report that the new control sticks made by John Kegl work perfectly with no slop in the controls so Jim is happier. While the glider was upside down it was a good time to inspect the trunion for the wheel and get a slightly different tire with better clearance and new brake pads. Braking power is good to have when landing a long wing glider. The Perlan 2 fuselage is built of carbon fiber which blocks radio waves; fiberglass does not block these transimissions. So our antennas are primarily located in two spots. The wheel fairing is fiberglass so there are antennas protected but operable inside. Because the Perlan 2 is designed to climb (not run) it flies relatively slow. So a retractable wheel is not required. The pressure bulkhead is in the same space as the wheel would retract into. The pressure bulkhead is critical to mission success, so we have an external wheel with the fiberglass housing to streamline it.

We removed the inner right eyeball window (with great difficulty) and sent it to John Seaborn of Frost Fighter. John is an old friend from Jim’s glider racing days and Einar said he remembered John as a “young whipper snapper.” Frost Fighter will print an electric heating grid on the inner eyeball windows similar to the rear windshield of most cars. This will hopefully reduce the frost impact on visibility of those forward facing eyeball windows. The new inner eyeballs and hatch transparencies (windows) were made by Great Lakes Aero Plastics. They are all unique one-of-a-kind windows. The hatch reminds me of a Pringles potato chip – compound complex curves. More on this in a future blog.

Greg and his crew made beautiful battery boxes that incorporate insulation. Elizabeth Austin said they are too pretty to be used for batteries. We wanted to upgrade from 100 to 150 amp hours of battery life. Battle Born Batteries out of Reno gave us a new 50 amp to go with their 100 amp LiFePo4 battery. This will give Perlan 2 more power for heating and longer flights in 2018. By moving the larger battery aft and keeping the 50 amp battery in the original spot we also improved our center of gravity balance in the Perlan 2. So this was a win-win upgrade. The GPS antenna and the  ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) antenna are now mounted directly atop the aft battery box. The science/equipment bay hatch is fiberglass so antennas will work and be protected inside.

The exacting detail work for the new custom hatches is why the Perlan 2 is upside down. More photos and info on that tomorrow.

Perlan Soars High! Jackie

Recent Posts