LAS VEGAS (AP) — Pilots with a Nevada glider team have flown to new heights above the Andes Mountains in Argentina using only wind as their engine.
An experimental sailplane built by a Perlan Project team set an unofficial world altitude record for engineless flight on Sunday, then broke that record by more than a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) two days later, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .
Pilots Jim Payne and Miguel Iturmendi flew the Perlan 2 aircraft to 63,776 feet (19,439 meters) on Tuesday, 3,107 feet (947 meters) higher than Sunday’s flight by Payne and Morgan Sandercock.
That’s about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the highest altitude used by commercial flights.
At that altitude, “the sky is starting to get dark” and you can see the curve of the Earth, Payne said. “You get some beautiful vistas from up there.”
Payne and company hope to keep pushing the altitude record higher between now and Sept. 15, when they will wrap up operations and return to the U.S..
Their next flight is scheduled for Sunday, weather permitting.
Perlan 2’s altitude record will remain unofficial until it is reviewed and accepted by the National Aeronautic Association and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, a Switzerland-based equivalent of the Guinness World Records for aviation.
It took almost a year for the Federation Aeronautique Internationale to sign off on the team’s 2017 world altitude record.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com