REDMOND, OR -- Redmond will host the first flight of a unique glider designed to reach the upper edges of our atmosphere, Wednesday morning. James Darcy with Airbus Group, says the Perlan II will make aviation history in Redmond. "Perlan is primarily a source of scientific knowledge. So, it will be able to collect data about the upper reaches of the atmosphere that no aircraft has been able to collect before. That’s really going to hopefully inform a more accurate picture of climate change, a more accurate understanding of what’s going on with the ozone layer. From Airbus’ perspective, we’re also interested in learning about aviation at extremely high altitudes."
Darcy says, "Wednesday’s flight will be historic because it’s the first flight of the world’s first pressurized glider and the only aircraft developed capable of doing what Perlan can do. It’s not going to set any records, but it’s going to allow Redmond to look back and say ‘this landmark moment in the history of aviation began in Redmond and we all supported it.’" Redmond was selected for the first flight, Darcy says in part, because a local aerospace contractor did the bulk of the construction on the glider.
He says the Perlan II is only expected to reach 5,000 feet during its Redmond test flight. "Eventually it will transition down to Minden, NV and that’s where it will start to work toward higher and higher altitudes. And then, finally, when they’re ready to go toward the record breaking flight they’ll move down to a region in Argentina where there’s the right combination of environmental factors to create what they call stratospheric mountain waves." In Argentina, it is hoped the Perlan glider will reach 90,000-feet, in an attempt to set a new world altitude record and collect scientific data.
The non-profit Perlan Project is funded by Airbus and other sponsors. Wednesday morning’s test flight is not open to the public, due to FAA regulations, although some might be able to catch a glimpse from a distance.