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Pelan Update

Perlan has been operating at Inyokern Airport in California. As you know, they are looking for waves to high altitude. The aim is to reach about 60,000 feet with the current sailplane and then 100,000 feet with a specially designed sailplane.

They are looking for a polar vortex wave which usually occurs near the poles. They have been trying in New Zealand for a couple of seasons without favorable results. So now they are based at Inyokern Airport in the Sierra Nevada of California before going to Argentina for the next wave season in that area. The pilots involved are Steve Fossett (left) and Einar Enevoldson (sailplane pilot and former NASA test pilot). (Photo taken March 15, 2005 after a night flight at Inyokern)

They successfully prepared the sailplane (DG-505) for flight, fitted the pilots for pressure suits and are all set for the high altitude wave when (if) it comes. Meanwhile, they are also checking systems for night flying in case the wave occurs at night or they have to stay airborne into the evening hours. The sailplane is equipped with both running and strobe lights.

Members of Sierra Soaring at Inyokern Airport have been helping in the venture. They are currently in transition between a commercially owned Pawnee towplane and a privately owned Cessna 182 towplane. Thus, Marty Eiler and Cindy Brickner of Caracole Soaring from nearby California City are providing the tows.

Perlan has enlisted the help of Mark Stucky (know as "Forger") for the night flights. Mark is an experienced pilot in all sorts of aircraft. He actually started his aviation career in hang gliders, became a Marine pilot, served in the Gulf, then became a test pilot for NASA at Edwards Air Force Base and currently is an Air Force pilot instructing for the test pilot school at Edwards. He has experience in various sailplanes including the Air Force Test Pilot School sailplanes based at Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi, California.

Perhaps one of Mark's most interesting glider experiences was towing in a QF-106 behind a C-141A. For further information on this adventure, see the following web site:
http://www.f-106deltadart.com/eclipse.htm.

Watch this space for further events at Inyokern Airport where Perlan will be based for the wave season until mid May.

 

Posted: 3/18/2005 By: General News


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