Record breaking Perlan Project


The Perlan Project is a research project to study atmospheric conditions utilizing sailplanes designed to fly at extremely high altitudes.

The Airbus Perlan Mission II has set a new world altitude record for a glider, this time soaring the engineless Perlan 2 to 76,124 feet, in the process collecting vital data on flight performance, weather and the atmosphere. The flight made by pilots Jim Payne and Tim Gardner surpasses even the maximum recorded altitude in level flight of the U.S. Air Force’s famous U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft: 73,737 feet, flown in 1989.

In a single week, the Perlan II has set the world altitude record for gliders three times:

  • Aug. 26, 2018: 63,100 feet
  • Aug. 28, 2018: 65,600 feet
  • Sept. 2, 2018: 76,124 feet

The overall altitude record for level flight of a manned aeroplane is held by the SR-71 Blackbird at 85,069 feet.

The ultimate goal is for Perlan 2 to fly at 90,000 feet on the edge of space to explore the science of giant mountain waves that help create the ozone hole and change global climate models. This will require the engineering of a spacecraft with glider wings that can fly in less than 3% of normal air density and at temperatures of minus 70 degrees C, conditions approximating the surface of Mars. These missions will provide education and inspiration for young people seeking careers of exploration and adventure in engineering and science.

In 2014 Airbus Group joined the project as a partner and major funder. Airbus Group is a European industrial flagship which unites the capabilities of three market leaders: Airbus, Airbus Defense and Space, and Airbus Helicopters. Combining European heritage with global outreach, the diversity Airbus talent and technology drives innovation, integration and fostering a global community. The Airbus team has been providing technical consultations as well as financial backing to support the Perlan’s goal to explore the edges of space in a glider.

To find out more about the project and to watch live footage via the virtual cockpit, visit

Image:  Airbus Perlan Mission II Surpasses U-2 © Airbus SAS 2017 – All rights reserved.

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