Airbus Perlan II glider begins fourth season
A glider designed to fly to the upper reaches of the atmosphere will leave its home base at Minden-Tahoe Airport for Argentina next month.
Airbus Perlan II Chief Pilot Jim Payne, a Minden resident, briefed members of the press on Wednesday on the status of the project.
Described as a space capsule with wings, the glider climbed to a record 76,100 feet in August 2018, taking advantage of the mountain wave coming off the Andes and the polar vortex.
Payne said this will be the fourth season in a row the glider has flown in South America in pursuit of higher and higher goals.
Thanks to the pressurized cabin and 84-foot wingspan, the Perlan II can fly in 2 percent of the atmosphere at sea level.
“The Perlan II, if you could launch it, could fly safely on Mars,” Payne said.
Payne said the glider will be disassembled and placed into a container with its spare parts and consumeables around June 3, when it will leave Minden on its way to South America.
It will be shipped to Chile and then driven 1,000 miles over the Andes and around to the airfield at El Calafate, which lies 30 miles downwind from the Andes.
The Perlan II will be towed to roughly 40,000 feet where advanced weather mapping will allow it to find updrafts capable of taking it to 90,000 feet.
Because the windows typically ice over during flight, operators will navigate using a moving map display that allows them to check their position relative to the ground.
Just some of the findings made by the Perlan II include research into climate and meteorology related to extreme weather, climate change engineering and more.
For instance, using data developed by their research, Payne said commercial airline pilots could save substantial amounts of money on fuel.
Flight operations are expected to run from August through September, during the Argentine winter.
University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Pat Arnott built a new temperature sensor that will be an enhancement on the Perlan II this season
For more about the project, visit http://www.perlanproject.org/