On Sunday April 24 Perlan Project did a static load test to verify the tail was strong enough to withstand the maximum opening shock from the rear drogue chute. The glider was held taunt between a snow plow in the front and from behind a Ford 250 pickup strapped to a Chevy Suburban.
The front connection was the normal Tost release. The rear connection was also a Tost release but for the high altitude drogue chute. Ty Bowen of Parachute Systems Design came to Minden to repack and advise on our use of the drogue chute. Tim, Morgan and Joe Latrell from Teachers in Space set up cameras and remote mikes. Greg Scates ran the winch on the front of the Ford pickup to slowly apply load. Miguel Iturmendi monitored the digital load scale. We used Amisteel rope with a breaking strength of 8,000+ pounds and low elasticity. The set up was tested without the glider on a previous day. Greg slowly applied applied tension via the winch. The scale read 2,000 pounds then 3,000 pounds which was our final test point. After the tension was slowly released, Doug Perrenod got in the front cockpit with a strain gauge. He successfully pulled the release for that drogue chute under 2,000 pounds load. Then he got in rear cockpit and pulled the release for the drogue chute under 1,000 pounds load. The team was extremely happy to document this critical emergency milestone. Next step is to actually release the chute in flight over the airport. --Jackie