El Calafate, Argentina, September 4, 2017 – Airbus Perlan Mission II, the world’s first initiative to send an engineless aircraft to the edge of space, made history yesterday in the Patagonia region of Argentina by soaring to over 52,000 feet and setting a new world altitude record for gliding.
“We are celebrating an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery today, and we’re so thankful to all the volunteers and sponsors whose years of tireless dedication have made this achievement possible,” said Ed Warnock, CEO of The Perlan Project. “We will continue to strive for even higher altitudes, and to continue our scientific experiments to explore the mysteries of the stratosphere. We’ve made history, but the learning has just begun.”
“With every Airbus Perlan Mission II milestone, we continue to learn more about how we can fly higher, faster and cleaner. But we also learn that aviation still has the power to surprise us, thrill us, and motivate us to find new frontiers of endeavor,” said Tom Enders, Airbus CEO. "Perlan's outstanding aviation success is the result of bold thinking. It's this kind of thinking that is the cornerstone of our vision for the future of Airbus, which we hope will inspire a new generation of aerospace explorers and innovators."
Chief pilot Jim Payne and co-pilot Morgan Sandercock completed this historic Perlan 2 flight from Comandante Armando Tola International Airport in El Calafate, Argentina, surpassing the previous 50,727-foot world record for glider altitude that was set in the unpressurized Perlan 1 by The Perlan Project founder Einar Enevoldson and lead project sponsor Steve Fossett in 2006.
Airbus Perlan Mission II is an initiative to fly an engineless glider to the edge of space using weather phenomena called stratospheric mountain waves, rising air currents that are significantly heightened a few times a year in only a couple places on earth by the polar vortex. The area around El Calafate, nestled within the Andes Mountains in Argentina, is one of those rare locations where these rising air currents can reach the stratosphere.
Because of its engineless design, the Perlan 2 glider is a unique platform for scientific discovery, and is carrying aloft on every flight experiments ranging in focus from factors influencing climate change to radiation effects on pilots and aircraft at high altitudes.
Following the completion of the mountain-wave gliding season in Argentina, Airbus Perlan Mission II will return to Minden, Nevada, where the all-volunteer team will modify and enhance the Perlan 2 glider based on information acquired in this year‘s test flights. Ultimately, the Perlan Project will attempt to reach 90,000 feet, a world altitude record for any wing-supported flight, with or without an engine.
Tune in to live flights of the Perlan 2 on the Airbus Perlan Mission II Virtual Cockpit at http://bit.ly/VirtualPerlan2. Stay updated on flight schedules by following The Perlan Project on Twitter @PerlanProject and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/perlanproject.
For more information about Airbus Perlan Mission II, please go to www.perlanproject.org.
Press Kit with images, infographic, fact sheet, and video is available at: http://bit.ly/perlanpress.
Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2016, it generated revenues of € 67 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space enterprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.
About Airbus Perlan Mission II
Airbus Perlan Mission II is an initiative to fly an engineless glider to the edge of space, higher than any other winged aircraft has operated in level, controlled flight, to open up a world of new discoveries related to high-altitude flight, weather and climate change. This historic endeavor is the culmination of decades of research and engineering innovation, and the work of a tireless international team of aviators and scientists who volunteer their time and expertise for the non-profit Perlan Project. The project is supported by Airbus and a group of other sponsors that includes Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies and BRS Aerospace.
Perlan’s other sponsors:
Weather Extreme Ltd.
Equipment, service and institutional donors:
Aero Club Lago Argentino
AGM Container Controls
Argentina Air Force Directorate-General of Research and Development
Automated Metal Products
Community Foundation of Western Nevada
Iridium Communications Inc.
Leading Edge Jet Center
MH Aviation Oxygen Systems
Miller Nash Graham & Dunn
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Soaring Society of America
Sports Aviation Foundation
University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory