After a strong effort by the Airbus Perlan Mission II team on the morning of August 19, 2017 we were ready to tow out Perlan 2. (See separate blog about PreFlight.) We had been inspired by the possible forecast from 48 hours previous for what might be possible. Unfortunately as the day got nearer the new forecast reduced our hopes. Back on Thursday the lift band through the sky in the cross section forecast was the best we had seen with a red (lift) path from low to high altitudes. (First photo) But on the actual flight day the lower level lift was not as strong as desired and the mid level was almost non-existant (Second photo). The high level wave was still looking strong.
Check list complete, Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock towed out to runway 25 at El Calafate airport as soon as a commercial flight departed. Launch was about 1:30 pm since the afternoon had much stronger lift than the morning in the forecast. Jim and Morgan climbed to 22,300 feet near Cerro Buenos Aires, then searched upwind with no sucess, retreated and climbed again, then tried for better lift across the lake about 3 pm. The best clouds started showing about 4:30 very high and farther east than expected. Jim and Morgan tried to reach them but found no lift so they headed back across the lake to return home. The landing photo on the runway shows empty sky to the west. On the crosswind taxiway Alpha looking north, the edge of high lennies could be seen with not much below them.
A link to the entire flight is posted at OLC, OnLine Contest for soaring flights. The take off, release from tow and landing 4k videos from the tail camera are on the newly reactivated Perlan YouTube channel.
Take Off https://youtu.be/KEudhtmOQUo
Release from Tow https://youtu.be/f0pSC6Byjc8
Perlan Soars! Perlan Se Eleva! Jackie