The newly completed, Airbus-sponsored Perlan Project glider will be on display at this year’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on 20-26 July, and there will be updates to the mission at the show.

The Perlan Mission II glider has been conceived as a not-for-profit venture to set new altitude records by flying a specially built, high-altitude pressurised glider higher than any other manned, winged, unpowered aircraft has ever flown in sustained flight. To do so it will use stratospheric mountain waves – waves of air created by strong winds blowing over the tops of mountains – and the polar vortex, that sustains the waves and allows them to reach up to 130,000ft (39,624m). It must fly at near-transonic speeds to create enough lift to keep it in flight, and it will have the life-support systems of a spacecraft. It follows and builds on the Perlan Mission I in August 2006, when pilot Steve Fossett (who disappeared in September 2007 when flying over the Sierra Nevada moutains in the US) and co-pilot Einar Enevoldson set the record of 50,671ft (15,460m) in an unpowered aircraft.

Another aim of the project is to amass data about the earth’s atmosphere and the ozone layer, global weather patterns and the atmospheric chemistry, and to inspire the next generation in careers in maths, science engineering and research.

For more information visit

Image(s) provided by: