Wearing NASA spacesuits and flying along the crest of the Andes, pilot Steve Fossett and co-pilot Einar Enevoldson took their ‘Perlan’ high performance research glider on the world’s first stratrospheric glider flight yesterday – surfing the Andean ‘mountain wave’ to a height of 50,699 feet (15,453 m) – while breaking the previous record by 1,662 ft (507m)
That’s an astounding record to have broken, most comercial airliners cruse in around 33,000 feet and they have thrust. The glider had but the heat from the ground to give it energy to make it up so high. In fact…
During the course of the flight (primarily within a 60 mile radius of El Calafate near the border of Argentina and Chile), the American pair found themselves flying well above commercial air traffic – a fact received with bemusement by pilots of passenger jets under the same air traffic control. Steve Fossett recalled: “I couldn’t understand the Chilean controller describing us in Spanish to the airline pilot – but I understood the answer by the pilot: ‘Wow’.”
Wow is right! If you were asked to choose a role model Steve Fossett would be a good choice. For more info on this amazing man take a look at his write up on Wikipedia.
[via Flight Nest]