Soaring Altitude Record Set
Airbus’ Perlan II glider set the altitude record for soaring on Sunday by riding a mountain wave in Argentina. According to the Argentinian online news site clarin.com, the glider reached at least 52,172 feet on a flight from El Calafate Airport in Tierra del Fuego, near the southern tip of South America. There was some irony in that the flight beat the previous record set by Einar Enevoldson and copilot Steve Fossett in 2006 (50,727 feet) and occurred on the 10th anniversary of Fossett’s death in a crash in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
The Perlan II was flown by Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock and occurred on the last day of a window of atmospheric conditions needed to push the glider to that height. It was the 38th flight of the campaign to beat the record in the raucous conditions of the extreme southern end of the continent. Sunday dawned clear with the winds sweeping across the mountains on the spine of the continent. Airbus’ next goal is to take the glider to the edge of space at 90,000 feet.