Airbus Perlan 2 Makes First Flight

Perlan 2 Airbus Group

Perlan 2 — the glider slated to fly to the edge of space next year — has lifted off for the first time. The successful first flight was conducted yesterday from Roberts Field Airport in Redmond, Oregon.

The glider was pulled off the ground by an agricultural airplane and released to soar to an altitude of 5,000 feet. It was piloted by Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock. The Airbus Group became the main sponsor for the Perlan Project last year, supplying the funding to make the project a reality.

Perlan 2 is slated to take off from Argentina next year and soar as high as 90,000 feet. The extreme flight is designed to study weather, climate change and the ozone layer. The research may also help scientists and engineers better understand the effects of these higher altitudes on aircraft performance and safety. Scientists also believe that the atmospheric conditions at the altitude at which Perlan 2 will soar is similar to those on Mars and that the flights will help predict space travel near that planet.

"Airbus Perlan Mission II is a historic endeavor in the truest spirit of aviation's earliest pioneers," said Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group. "The knowledge gained from this project will impact how the world understands and addresses climate change. But it will also help Airbus continue to innovate ways to fly higher, faster and cleaner, on Earth and possibly beyond."

Watch the first flight here.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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