On August 3, 2017 The Perlan Team was treated to nacreous clouds highlighted by the rising sun ito the east (second photo). These are pearlesent in color and are the root of the word Perlan. They are at an extremely high altitude and we were delighted to see them. From our weather balloon data, we expected good wave below 25,000 but it was not clear what would happen above that. Our wind diagram showed that the winds reduced from 25,000 to 30,000 feet. This is not a desirable trait for wave to propigate higher. Studying the SkySight forecasts indicated that the afternoon had a slightly better wave profile. So Jim Payne and Miguel Iturmendi launched the Perlan 2 about 1 pm from El Calafate. Cholo towed them to Cerro Buenos Aires on the west end of Lago Argentino. When they released at 9,700 they had 7-8 knots of lift (700-800 feet per minute up). This was the best lift we have seen thus far so we were very hopeful of making it past the tropopause at 30,000 feet.
The clouds from the satellite photo did not indicate wave bars (lines of lift) parallel to the Andes. Jim actually took a photo of the lake from the front right side window. The left side was in the shade so it typically gets some frost. We carry a hand held defroster that is 12volt. Miguel took a few inflight photos of the mountains with the glacier in the middle while Jim positioned the glider. Miguel also captured a picture of the instrument panel above 32,000 feet. Unfortunately the lift rates had really softened so there wasn't enough energy to climb higher. After using some altitude to search for stronger lift for two hours, nothing better could be found. They climbed back to 30,000 feet, but again had the lift drop off to less than 100 feet per minute. So after 4.5 hours of extremely cold flying they returned to El Calafate airport. To descend they were flying a constant bank turn with a strong tail wind. So it looks like a corkscrew on the flight trace. The flight trace is available on OLC for viewing. See link below. There are 4 minute YouTube videos of the tow and release, and of the high point of this flight from the links below. Martin Heltai (as always) had some great photos which he put in a DropBox folder. He also has posted some tail camera video footage. Please use with attribution. See links below.
Perlan Soars! Jackie
Flight Trace https://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?dsId=6011698
Tow and Release https://youtu.be/-BNQZ94O9Pg
High Point https://youtu.be/TfXIOv2h4J4