Perlan Mission II descends upon Argentina’s Patagonia, breaks world gliding record
Airbus Perlan Mission II, an initiative led by the all-volunteer exploration team sponsored by Airbus aiming to fly an engineless glider to the edge of space, finished its second season of soaring in El Calafate on a high note. On September 4, days before the team would pack up and finish the season, Argentine Perlan 2 glider completed a world-record breaking flight from Comandante Armando Tola International Airport in El Calafate, reaching 52,172 feet.
This historic flight surpasses 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.
While this milestone is significant, Perlan Mission II’s goal is multi-dimensional, and aside from breaking the world gliding record it seeks to collect ground-breaking insights on climate change and weather phenomena and understand impacts of high-altitude flight on pilots and aircraft.
For several months, the Perlan 2 via its test flights has been collecting information that will allow scientists to study a range of atmospheric phenomenon that will ultimately yield to more accurate models of Earth’s upper atmosphere and climatic change.
Perlan 2 will also provide insights into high altitude turbulence and radiation effects on pilots and aircraft which will help shape the future of aerospace design and engineering. Because it has no engine, it is able to collect uncontaminated air samples from a range of altitudes and, unlike a weather balloon, it can be steered, stay in one area, and take off and land in the same location.
El Calafate was not chosen haphazardly as Perlan 2’s outpost. For two years, Perlan 2 has called Argentina’s Patagonia home due to it being one of the few regions on earth with the proper climactic conditions to produce the world’s highest stratospheric mountain waves.
These rising air currents, created by a combination of mountain winds and the polar vortex, are strong enough to lift this experimental aircraft, and its two pilots on board, to altitudes where the air density is less than two percent of what it is at sea level.
For more information please contact:
Communication Specialist - Airbus Latin America & Caribbean