Perlan 2 Glider Completes First Flight

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The Perlan 2 glider made its first test flight Wednesday above Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon, completing another step in the project team’s goal to set a new altitude record next year. Pilots Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock flew the glider to 5,000 feet above the field during the first of what will be a series of tests before attempting to reach 90,000 feet from Argentina in 2016. Perlan 2 is a two-seat pressurized sailplane equipped with oxygen equipment, emergency parachutes, cameras and instruments for gathering flight and atmospheric data. It has a wingspan of 84 feet and an empty weight of 1265 pounds.

The Perlan Project began in 1992 as a nonprofit organization with a mission to conduct high-altitude research with sailplanes. In 2006, Perlan I, flown by Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson, set a record for gliders at 50,722 feet from Argentina. The project joined Airbus Group in 2014 and has sponsors including Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies and BRS Aerospace. “We’re extremely excited about the successful first flight of the Perlan 2 glider,” said Ed Warnock, Perlan Project CEO. “This marks a major breakthrough in aviation innovation, one that will allow winged exploration of the atmosphere at the edge of space and lead to new discoveries to unravel some of the continuing mysteries of weather, climate change and ozone depletion.” After reaching 90,000 feet, the next phase will be to design a wing that can take the glider to 100,000 feet, Perlan said.