The Perlan Project is an attempt to fly a glider to 90,000ft (28km) in a weather phenomenon called the Polar Vortex. The project has completed stage 1 and proven that it is possible to soar in the Polar Vortex and climb into the stratosphere without an engine. Windward Performance is designing and constructing the stage 2 glider for the Perlan Project. Progress is being made each day on the construction of the Perlan 2 glider in Bend, Oregon, USA and we are very excited about this project.
The Perlan 2 glider will be able to fly in a region of the atmosphere that is sometimes called the “Ignorosphere” by meteorologists. This is because no airplane or satellite can sustain flight in this region and it is basically ignored by meteorologists. The Perlan Project expects to be able to take meteorological measurements that will expand the understanding of the chemical and physical processes that occur in this layer of the atmosphere.
There are many technical challenges to flying a glider at this extreme altitude. The air is very thin so the glider must fly at a high true airspeed – more than half the speed of sound. Aerodynamic drag must be reduced to an absolute minimum so that the predicted updraughts will carry the glider upwards. The glider must be safe in extreme atmospheric conditions, comfortable for the pilots and inexpensive to operate in remote locations of the earth.
Windward Performance is able to carry out the complete aerodynamic and structural design of this unique aircraft with its internal resources. We are also constructing the glider in-house with our experienced fabrication team. If the glider is successful in reaching the predicted altitude, it will have completed a sustained flight higher than any other manned aircraft in wing-borne flight.