On September 15 the Perlan team finished loading the container. It takes some preparation to get everything in the proper place and tightly secured. The Perlan 2 goes into its special built Cobra trailer. In one photo perhaps you can see Loris' shoes as he checks the position in the trailer. Cholo was presented with the Perlan tow rope to symbolize all the safe tows he has made over two seasons with Perlan in El Calafate. The weather had been gusting 50+ knots on the previous day when we were doing the preliminary loading. But on the 14th Cholo was not able to take off with the CNVVM Boero due to those conditions. So he had to delay his departure. The truck driver had to buck those head winds coming into El Calafate. He ran out of fuel about 5 km before the airport. Tago picked him up and they got jugs of diesel fuel in town. Just as they finished filling the jugs, some pieces of the overhang at the gas station blew off. Even for El Calafate this was too much Patagonia wind. We were really glad to have the glider safely inside the trailer, inside the hangar.
The winds were less at dawn on the 15th when we loaded the trailer. Then the final securing had to be done. The winds started increasing as they were forecast to do. The crane operator was okay with the winds when he arrived before 11am. It took four guys on each guy rope and 3:07 minutes to lift from ground to truck. The Tribal truck and container were escorted by airport cars to the highway, and I am sure the driver was ready for tail winds. It rained and blew most of the afternoon.
It was a valuable campaign; we learned and explored on every flight. The team worked exceedingly well together, always ready to prioritize the needs of Airbus Perlan Mission II. This campaign is easily likened to an expedition in the best sense of that word. The high altitude flight was very worthwhile, but not the culmination of the project. We had several strategy sessions after that flight brainstorming where do we go from here? And how do we get there based on what we know now.