These images show the first flight of a unique, one of a kind, glider in late September over Redmond (Oregon) in the United States. Called Perlan, the 84 feet (25-metre) wingspan aircraft is equipped with round portholes similar to those of the Virgin Galactic shuttle and a pressurized cabin because it will have to take its two occupants to an altitude, never reached by an aircraft, of more than 90,000 feet (27,000 metres) above our heads, i.e. 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) higher than the current world record, held for 40 years, by Lockheed Martin’s SR-71 Blackbird, the US spy plane.
This stratospheric flight is scheduled for next July from Argentina. The engine-less glider will require being towed and released at altitude, by a light ‘plane, and then left to search for, and ride on powerful thermals, or convection currents, over the Andes, before it can soar to the stratosphere at a speed exceeding 400+ mph (600 km/h).
Ed Warnock, CEO, Perlan Project: interview in the video.
This project initiated by Steve Fosset has been supported over the last year by the Airbus group. With the aid of the on-board instrumentation and cameras, the Perlan will study climate changes and the state of our ozone layer. This project is just the first step, because in 2019, the team’s ambition is to go even higher, to over 100,000 feet (30,000 metres).