On the glider into space
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On the glider into space

On the glider into space



Despite the fact that the man is increasingly and aggressively intervenes in nature, there are many processes in the bowels of the earth, in the oceans and in the atmosphere, the essence of which is insufficient or unclear, or even incomprehensible to our scientists. Many phenomena in three verses, is not fully understood, for several reasons.

For example, the giant waves in existence, scientists have not believed until recently. Killer waves that occur in the oceans, and reach a height of 20-30 meters, appear not because of earthquakes, tsunamis, and as a result of adverse climatic processes.

The atmosphere surrounding our planet, too, not all processes are well studied and understood. Such phenomena, for example, include mountain waves, or lee wave. This is a very interesting atmospheric phenomenon, and that want to take advantage of glider-champions to reach unprecedented heights on a specially prepared gliders.


But first things first. What is a mountain or lee wave?

In those cases where a long ridge is located at an angle close to a straight line, regular disturbances of the flow may occur relative to the direction of the air flow on the leeward side of the ridge. These perturbations assume the character of standing waves, traced at a considerable distance behind the ridge (approximately equal to the twenty-fold height of the ridge) and up to a height several times greater than the height of the ridge itself. This phenomenon usually occurs with a steady and strong enough wind speed of at least 10 m / s, it is particularly pronounced in the presence of a flat plain on the leeward side of the ridge. Often leeward waves give rise to characteristic clouds of lenticular (lenticular) form, located in tiers, - stratocumulus, Altocumulus and Cirrocumulus.

On the glider into space. Lenticular clouds. Mountain waves. 1


lenticular clouds

Leeward waves were quite well known glider pilots, who used them for the climbs to record heights. By studying this atmospheric phenomenon, scientists have come close to the study of another meteorological phenomenon - stratospheric polar vortex.

The first serious study of mountain waves were conducted by German glider pilots and scientists in 30-ies of the last century. German glider-champion Hans Deutschman 1933 in for the first time faced with the effect of standing waves in the mountains Rozenbirge. Later, in 1939g. expert on mountain meteorology Joachim Küttner published a paper with a detailed analysis of the waves generated in the lee of mountain ranges. For many years, research Küttner was almost the only and the most comprehensive work on the subject.

As it often happens, nature itself has forced itself to deal with the effect of anomalously powerful mountain waves. In the spring of 1950, a two-engine P-38 Lightning came in for landing at a small Bishop airfield (US, California). Ascending a hurricane stream, an airplane weighing about 9 tons, like a fluff "threw out" to an altitude of 10 kilometers, where it soared for another hour with the engines turned off. These places, on the leeward slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains, used to be notorious among pilots. Flying over this area, with a lively air movement, the pilots dubbed "over the lid of the coffin," for unexpected and unpredictable ascending and descending air currents.

This situation has long been concerned about the military and civil aviation administration and the National Bureau of Meteorology. In 1951, the government finally decided to deal with the strange and dangerous phenomenon and has allocated money to study it. Sierra Wave Project Manager appointed German emigrant, an expert mountain air flows Joachim Küttner, the first explorer of the lee waves.

On the small airfield Bishop Küttner gathered the most experienced glider America, here the lovers of extreme sports stretched, glider enthusiasts, and serious researchers. The possibility for a few minutes before to ascend to an unattainable height attracted many champions, fame and adventure lovers.

It was here, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, and was born the science of the origin of the mountain waves, as well as the art of high-rise non-motorized flying. On specially equipped glider with special equipment pilots deliberately sought and included in the strong vertical flows, risking their lives, brought accurate data for research.

Scientists thanks to valuable records instruments on board gliders found that static mountain waves arise at the intersection of the front air of the mountain range, at an angle equal to or close to 90 degrees. This huge mass of air (it can be tens of millions of tons!) "Bounce" and directed upwards.

With certain combinations of several factors, at a height of 10-15 km may occur so-called "wave of the century", which has great speed and monstrous kinetic energy. The rate of vertical flow, which reaches 25 m \ s (90 km \ h), for an observer inside the waves, hardly felt, but on the border with the "slow" air surrounding updraft formed rotors, literally tearing to shreds the air "normal".

One of the few who managed to escape, hitting a boundary rotor was an experienced pilot and champion Larry Edgar. In 1955, his glider went into a meat grinder. Blinded by a monstrous instantaneous overload (devices showed 20G, that the pilot suffered during 0,4 seconds!) Edgar miraculously survived.


Dream Einar Enevoldsona

Einar Enevoldson, a US and British Air Force pilot and former NASA pilot, had for many years the idea of ​​riding a mountain wave and reaching the stratosphere on a glider. The official record for altitude in continuous level flight was held by the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, flying at 73 feet (736 meters). Some planes reached even higher altitudes, but they did not fly at that altitude, but rather simply popped out like a champagne cork and immediately began to descend.

For a long time it was thought that the boundary of the tropopause and stratosphere, extending to a height of 10-15 km altitude is the ceiling for the airframe, but Einar was sure that this is not so. In the early 1990-ies, after a visit to the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, which is located near Munich, he received conclusive evidence of the existence stratospheric mountain waves.

These waves are similar to tropospheric mountain waves, which have long been used by gliders. Only the stratospheric wave is higher, and spreads already in the stratosphere, as is clear from the name. This wave appears at a certain time of the year, under quite certain climatic conditions at the poles of the globe. So Einar Enevoldson had the idea to ascend a specially prepared glider into the stratosphere, using several mountain waves, so to speak with a transplant. But only in 1999 year, after meeting with the famous adventurer, who established several world records on land, at sea, and in the air, by billionaire Steve Fossett, Einar's dream began to acquire real features.



Perlan - First Jump

The Perlan, is purpose-built for the leap into the stratosphere, the glider. This is a hybrid airframe and space capsules. Perlan is a special profile is very elongated wing, which helps to keep the unit in practically airless space.

 Thanks to Fossett’s money and connections, Enevoldson’s experience and skills, already in 2002, both enthusiasts tried to conquer the stratosphere. For such a jump, there are only three places on Earth: Kiruna (Sweden), Omarama in New Zealand, and the mountain ranges of Patagonia.

Several attempts have been unsuccessful. The team changed the launch pad until it settled in El Kalafete, on the shore of the icy lake Argentino in Patagonia.


Patagonia - South America, including Argentina and Chile and the Andes. Absolutely precise definition of boundaries do not exist. Magellan used the word patagon (Giants) to describe the native Tehuelche living in these places. Their average height was 1,8 meters, while the average growth of the Spaniards did not exceed 1,55m!


In the summer of 2006, despite technical problems at an altitude of 10,5 km, the Fosset-Enevoldson crew managed to catch the second wave after descending and rise to an altitude of 15 meters. It was a new world record, but the ceiling of Perlan 460 itself was reached. The design has exhausted itself. The project was on the verge of closing. In 1, Steve Fossett crashed in a single-seat plane. Einar, who at that time was already over 2007, the way to heaven was closed by doctors.

On the glider into space. Lenticular clouds. Mountain waves. 2


Perlan 2

But stubborn descendant of the Vikings did not leave their dream. 9 years built Perlan 2, the money for which Enevoldsona team collected around the world. In July 2014 years, an official and a full sponsor of the project was the Perlan 2 Airbus Corporation.

On the glider into space. Lenticular clouds. Mountain waves. 3


Diagram illustrating the strategy and plan to jump into the stratosphere.

At the moment, according to the specialists of the Airbus department, who are responsible for the construction and testing of the second version of the Perlan 2 high-altitude glider, the glider has already been tested and is ready for a new record flight. In August, the glider will be transferred to Argentina, to the most promising place for climbing to a height of 27 meters. This is exactly the height that the Perlan program specialists intend to achieve in a new record throw into the stratosphere.

On the glider into space. Lenticular clouds. Mountain waves. 4


We can only wait for news of this unprecedented rise.

July 20 2016, the Airbus press office announced that the Perlan glider pilot 2 sent to Argentina aboard a container vessel.

Especially for the portal Avia.Pro Valery Smirnov.