Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Perlan Project Story

Perlan Mission II intends to set new altitude records by flying a purpose-built pressurized high-altitude non-powered glider higher than any other wing borne aircraft has ever flown, using stratospheric mountain waves and the polar vortex and in so doing harvest invaluable data about aerodynamics, earth's atmosphere and its ozone layer.

From 1992-98, Perlan Project's founder and NASA test pilot, Einar Enevoldson collected evidence on a weather phenomenon that no one at the time even knew existed: enormous stratospheric mountain waves. Einar quickly figured out that you can use a glider to ride these air waves all the way up to near space. And he set out to prove it.

In 1998 meteorologist Dr. Elizabeth Austin teamed up with Einar and expanded upon his findings proving that it is stratospheric polar night jets and the polar vortex that were the principal factors in creating these mountains waves that could reach up to 130,000 feet into the middle stratosphere.

In 1999 Steve Fossett the record-setting aviator, sailor, and adventurer, and the first person to fly solo non-stop around the world in a balloon, agreed to fund Perlan Mission I and joined as its pilot.

On August 30, 2006 Steve and Einar broke the previous altitude record for gliders by 1,662 feet (507m) by flying an unpowered glider to 50,671 feet (15,460m), and they could have flown even higher.

The problem was that their pressure suits expanded so much inside the cabin that they couldn't move the flight controls and control the aircraft anymore. So they came down, and quickly decided they needed a custom glider with a pressurized cabin (Perlan 2). . . . Perlan Mission II was born.

Perlan Project needs your help to complete the mission. Visit and the crowdfunding campaign page to learn more


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