Perlan’s Sponsors Enable Us to Fly High

Aug 22, 2023 | Argentina, Blog, El Calafate, Equipment & Instrumentation

As a non-profit aviation organization The Perlan Project is “highly” appreciative of all our in-kind sponsors over the years. In 2022-2023 we received new support from earlier sponsors and brand new support. The list is so impressive for our non-profit organization composed only of volunteers.

New this year is an incredible donation of data time from ECMWF for SkySight’s weather forecasting. The ECMWF models have many more forecast points at high altitudes, which are needed for accurately predicting stratospheric mountain wave conditions. Matthew Scutter from SkySight is using higher detail initial conditions to start the weather forecasts for us each day in Argentina. He is able to use the more detailed starting data as well as more detailed forecasting. Right now stratospheric wave flying is as much art as science. In the future stratospheric drone flying needs to be all science. Perlan is leading that movement.

Battle Born Batteries has been a long time Perlan sponsor with fresh support this year. We acquired a Perlan golf cart to pull the glider and trailer around the Minden-Tahoe airport. Thanks to Battle Born it has a new set of batteries and chargers to be super-powered. When the team decided we could squeeze enough room to upgrade from 150 Ah to 200 Ah inside the Perlan glider Battle Born gave us yet another “high flying” battery so Perlan 2 can “Get up there. Stay up there.”

Perlan 2 has had a BRS parachute installed for emergency landings since it was built in 2015. There’s no way Perlan pilots could egress the hatch openings wearing a personal parachute. BRS continued their sponsorship when they performed a pro-bono repack of their ballistic parachute at the factory early in 2022. The full extension of the risers and chute on their re-packing table was a sight to behold. That is years of support and we thank you. May every landing be a soft one!

New this year is a donated premier Ground Power Unit (GPU), a Start Pac Model 3328 Special, from Start Pac out of Las Vegas, Nevada for the Egrett. Eve Storm and her Start Pac team were so helpful.  They responded to and answered all of our questions in just a few minutes over multiple days,” stated Roberta Vasenden.  “It’s rare to find this level of support anywhere!” Arne is impressed: “This is an extreme project in extreme weather conditions that require the best, and we got it from Start Pac.” Getting a solid start on a cold soaked big turbo Garrett engine like the Egrett’s is so re-assuring on any flight day. This could be the “starting point” of a world record!

The continued support of Prof Simone D’Amico and the Stanford Space Rendezvous Lab occurred AGAIN in April 2023. Our High Altitude Flight Recorders are LX9000s. Since records above 49,000 feet are documents based on GPS altitude, they must have GPS calibration up to 100,000 feet. The Space Lab has generously provided calibration with their unique equipment for Perlan Project five times. And if there is another world record this year the rules require a post flight calibration. Thank you again to the Soaring Society of America for donating those unique LX9000s.

While we are on the topic of LX Nav equipment, thank you to LX for sponsoring new S10s this year to support the installation of new variometer software called the HAWK. This new software that is taking the gliding world by storm, calculates air motion using data from inertial sensors. We are really looking forward to help with vertical air gusts. Of course we have such special circumstances of brutal cold, extremely high altitude, and strong wind strength that test flights must be made to tweak the algorithms for our use. We intend to be the world’s highest flying HAWK!

In previous years Omni Medical Systems sponsored us with their Skydrate relief systems. These are the same systems used by military pilots when they fly long missions in state of the art aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35.  This year Omni renewed their support with some fresh hardware that the extreme environment of the Perlan 2 cockpit will give a great test.

This year Aerolineas Argentina contacted us to form a partnership. They have given us years of awesome travel support in Argentina. The inside joke was that Ed and Linda Warnock were treated like rock stars for their flight to El Calafate. “No,” said another team member “they were treated like World Cup champion futballers!” We will be assisting Aerolineas with advancing aviation visibility in Argentina and inspiring their staff with presentations by Perlan Project team members in Buenos Aires.

For the past three years, the Perlan Project has been engaged in a significant collaboration with Thales, aimed at conducting rigorous tests of low-power, low-bandwidth in-flight satellite communication technology. These tests have been conducted aboard both the Grob G 520 “Egrett” tow plane and the Perlan 2 glider, each equipped with specialized test units designed to push the boundaries of what is possible in satellite communication during flight. We are thrilled to announce that we will be sharing some groundbreaking developments and exciting news arising from these tests as they reach their conclusion.

These developments would not be possible without the collaborative effort of two other respected partners, Iridium and Videosoft, who have joined forces with Thales in this venture. Their unwavering support has been nothing short of astonishing for the Perlan Project, reinforcing our mission to explore the outer limits of aviation and aerospace innovation.

Iridium’s continued commitment to our cause in 2023 is greatly appreciated. They have been instrumental in providing satellite phones that are essential for maintaining remote emergency communication during our flight operations. Furthermore, Iridium has stepped up to offer invaluable support for the Thales satellite communication system, further enhancing our capabilities in this critical area.

Videosoft, a premier specialist in low-bandwidth video technology, has also lent their expertise to our endeavor. Their support is focused on optimizing the video feed from Perlan’s tail camera and the Egrett’s forward and rear cameras, a task that demands cutting-edge solutions due to the constraints of the low bandwidth available at the near polar latitudes and high altitudes of our flight operations.

Garmin has continued to support the Perlan Project with inReach communications devices that are our primary emergency communications tools. We also have their Garmin Pilot software running on an iPad and their GDL 50 which provides a completely independent backup attitude indicator and backup navigation if all battery power fails. Jim calls it his “Get Home box.” They previously supplied team aviation watches, weather radar for the Egrett, and fun times at Oshkosh!

IQAir came to our rescue when we were looking for a way to sanitize the air in a small room with a team of 20 when we would be operating with 220v power. I can attest their Swiss made HealthPro system is robust yet quiet. Their US  sales are for models operating on 110v. Their filtration is smaller than virus size for peace of mind operating in such tight quarters. Thank you for your valued support.

Another new sponsor for the team is Flying Eyes Optics, based in Austin, Texas.  Flying Eyes Optics produces innovative pilot eyewear and sunglasses that comfortably fit under helmets and headsets.  Jordanna Musser and CEO and Founder, Dean Siracusa, made sure that all of our pilots’ eyes are protected from the harsh conditions they face while flying.  Your generosity has made our flights more comfortable so we can focus on the real task:  flying into the stratosphere!

Thanks to all the other team members who contributed to this blog. As you can see we are incredibly fortunate to have the support of so many well-known names in the aviation world. Thanks to them our goals of exploration, innovation and inspiration are high flying realities. Perlan Soars! Jackie


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